I wonder as I wander

It is a busy Friday morning, the last Friday before school finishes for the holdiays. I am rushing to sign Christmas cards and wrapping Lily’s class gift exchange present with double wide painter’s tape, the scotch nowhere to be found. Perhaps the green will be a festive addition…

Tinsel Jesse

Tinsel Jesse

I look around and in the hours past our last effort of clean up, the house seems to have once again exploded. This event happens with frequency. It is stealthy and silent and creeps upon us and we wonder where the order has gone. Some days I feel that plausible ways I could die would be by spontaneous combustion due to expended frenetic energy of the morning rush, a strong second though is death by paper avalanche. School sheets, work papers, insurance details, bills, advertisements, to do lists and flyers pile higher and higher… eyeing me with a sinister message of “clean up or else”. This is a hard place to find peace and solitude. Only half of our Christmas lights are working up on the tree, the other half burnt out and regardless of efforts to replace them (venturing into mainstream ‘Christmas’ commercial madness at 6 different stores) I am at a loss to find even one box of simple white lights. There are red and coloured, balls, purple LED, icicles and musical lights that dance to a tune. There are blow up minions and reindeer and Elvis Santa’s. I wade through piles of disheveled store shelves filled with lights and ornaments in search of the simple. And it strikes me that this is an analogy of life for me these days. Wading through to find my way back to the simple form of holding onto, in heart, in hands or thought the tangible things that matter. How complicated I can make life. How busy and frantic and filled with things that sneak in, that just seem to ‘happen’ so to speak and take time and energy and take away from intentionality of how I envision life with a focus on else, on other, on Him.

I drive on the 403 as it winds through and cuts the countryside into two. I am caught up in my head, heavy with thoughts which seem to loom above like vultures ready to pick apart the semblance of peace I have composed…

And then I look up, I look up from my worry and I see the sunrise. I am in awe. The rising sun tucks the land in under a blanket of fog, the light radiating and glowing, a still water pool reflecting the expanse of evergreens, light glittering on the grass in beads like thousands of diamonds… and I am rushing by them a commuter in the passing lane and this gift that is available to me on the full screen in high definition. This is a picture of majesty, of provision and providence that sweeps past me, and this reality which surrounds and screams out to me in the silence of the car that the Creator, (the very One which I confess and cry out my angst to) is surrounding me with Himself, His beauty, His wonder, His arms of grace, reaching down to penetrate through the thick fog of life and astound me in streams of sunlight. Revealing that my God is to be worshiped, my life is to be entrusted to this One who redeems the land with mere light, His Light. I hold that moment for a while, and return to the struggle of the dark.

best present of all!

of all the gifts…their favourite!

My full confession these days is that peace… has been elusive at best. I have hesitated these months to write and although my heart has been full, my words have been few. My soul achingly quiet. I don’t know what to say,- primarily because I don’t know where He is leading. The dark. Compounding the dark is that as I continue to live life ‘here’, there are shadows of my everyday world ‘there’ people who we continue to greet on FB, hear news of or send funds to sustain whom we are hard pressed to be apart from. Our people, our Samburu and Kenyan and missionary family. Our previous way of life hidden in the valley of Mt. Nyiro continues on like a sitcom muted, in the background, but ever playing. Two worlds, now and then, that I struggle to live in fully, precariously balancing the edge of both, not knowing or not able to move towards the centre of either place. We live in the shadowlands, of being in one place with parts of our heart planted in another.

Ntambawa Mama LarenoI think often of Lareno, a recent picture of him shows his gangly growth his shorts too short, shoeless, too skinny, look of anxiety, his school uniform of blue shirt with pink collar, his little brother, Ntlpasso, wearing a familiar t-shirt of Luke’s…. a face displaying a coy childish grin, of mama Lareno, now with a newborn girl, of Abaya, the protective father, his daughter about now running out of anti seizure medication…

Ntlpassai

Ntlpassai

I think and compare and can’t seem to figure out life here. Like an ill fitting garment, I am just not comfortable.

The way ahead is uneven and unsteady. It is filled with unexpected turns and unanticipated setbacks. And we struggle to know what is up next. The thing that makes sense,- a return to Kenya, to Kurungu, to Samburu seems to be far from our reach and surrounded by complexities, politics and insecurities we do not have the power to change.  And although we had anticipated a future shift out of the rural isolation (for the benefit of health, safety, security and kid’s education), we had not expected things to change so soon and so suddenly. We face the reality of not being able to return to Kurungu or to minister with Samburu even as we had anticipated that this would be possible in some capacity. We have opened ourselves up to other options within Kenya in which to serve, yet the doors have been closed. And so decisions are upon us, for which we do not have the answers for. Moving towards the next thing is the ‘easy’ decision I suppose for us. We gravitate to mission work, we have funding, we have momentum, we have little in the way of things to ‘tie us down’ here (our roots all but a little raw and calloused, at having been torn up so often) and yet… If we do not hear His voice of calling, is the next thing the best thing? We are looking for, but have not found peace… The thought of not returning to Kenya Is a painful one, a thought that is paralyzing.

In moments of self indulging pity I sink down into thoughts of despair of never fitting in. I want life to ‘fit’ for me and perhaps it never will. I selfishly want life to accommodate my vision of how things will play out, and I realize that my view of how to serve in this life might be narrow and needs some expansion. Life isn’t meant to fit, it is meant to be lived. I am a nomad, much like the tribes I have served. I am a wanderer, a person who seeks refuge and finds meaning in various places… who makes homes amongst strangers and foreigners and feels mostly at home in the midst of the different. And the ‘different’ that I face now is confronting the idea of living in the familiar… a place that for the last 20 years was secondary to the aspiration of overseas ministry.  And in my wandering,- even now, I pray that there is at the very least a sense of mindfulness, of attention to moments within the journey and not just the entity of the journey itself. That perhaps, this change of direction (if that is what is to be) is o.k., as it is not the places I go to, but how I journey through them. It is not being in missions, as my dear friend Mick would say, it is living a missional life.Callaghans on sledding Hill

I know these thoughts to be true, the idea of living a missional life, regardless of the continent or specific ministry ahead of me but I am hard pressed to feel truth in these days or find ways to live purposefully. I live often with dissonance between my heart and mind. Fighting through fear, anxiety and doubt and pressing on because what my heart struggles to feel tangibly my head fully knows. God is good. He is in control. He is provider. He is my Prince of Peace. He has compassion on me, He loves me. He loves my children. He loves the lost. He is a giver of good gifts. He is Redeemer and Saviour. He knows me (scary thought) He is merciful. He is just. He is Holy. His promises never fail…. I can’t always see it or understand it or make sense of it, but I know it to be a true thought. In true CBT form, push off the feelings of uncertainty and rest in the Truth of God’s revelation and His character.christmas picture

It is Christmas Eve now,- the stockings packed with chocolate balls, Hershey kisses and oranges, the tree set, the lights glowing (yes,- I did get lights in the end), the smell of pine and the unique scent of Christmas paper and scotch tape still lingers. I enjoy the quiet last minutes envisioning kids racing down the stairs in socked pajama’s to see what is in store. There is this layer of energy that simmers above the quiet truth of the Nativity… and I smile to think of the joy the Father had in giving us the gift of Emmanuel. The amazing story of Mary and Joseph and open hearts to God’s leading, of humble beginnings in simple faith moving forward…

And if we are to make a beginning again,- whether here in Canada or Kenya, I pray that in simple faith we can mindfully move forward, like wide eyed children on Christmas morning, rushing to see what’s in store, we would joyfully press on focusing not on the unknown but on that which is revealed to us in the person of Emmanuel,- God with us, and even more miraculously, God in us.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die. lily and laura
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

 

sledding down hill