Someone observed recently that my writing has evolved since I've been in Kyrgyzstan: apparently it's taken on new 'humanity and warmth'. I like that. (Although perhaps it means that my writing was robotic and icy before, which is worrying). It's certainly true that the daily exposure to other peoples' privations and sufferings is changing me. It's changing my priorities and the way I think about the future. It's changing my place in the world and my relationship with the maker of the universe.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Now, I was (and still sort of am) a refined inner-city Melbournite in possession of a good job that provides a reasonably disposable income; I was able (and will doubtless be able again) to indulge my penchants for good coffee, independent designers, organic markets, The Sunday Age crossword, arthouse cinemas - oh, you know the type. It's a beautiful life in many ways. I wrote about it here. But if I'm honest with myself, it wasn't particularly fulfilling; I always had this inkling suspicion that I should be elsewhere, doing otherwise. Yet because I was so very comfortable and surrounded by pleasant things, I ignored the inkling, merely appeasing it from time to time by tithing and making gifts of money to worthy projects. And I certainly didn't compromise on daily coffee or good shows or new books in order to be more generous with my time and money.
In the last couple of months, I've had the opportunity to examine that inkling suspicion from different angles, and it's taken on the proportions of a giant realisation, which is this: I don't think I can return to that pleasant, selfish life. (And when I call it selfish, I'm only describing what I made it to be. I'm not judging the many inner-city people I know who live with integrity and generosity. I just know that I didn't live that way). I'm not about to make a big announcement: I'm not about to tell you that I'm devoting my life to orphans or the homeless. All I'm saying is - it's possible. I want to have God's heart for justice and mercy, now that he has shown me so clearly what is good. And indeed, my heart is different; it is more malleable, softer, quicker to act. God, in his goodness, is delivering me from certain of my vices.
How these new inclinations will be manifested, I don't exactly know. But I do know this: if, in a couple of years, you find me drinking lattes and navel gazing in my renovated Yarraville home, making plans for the theatre - you would do me a kindness by opening up the book of Micah and directing my attention to this blog post.