I used to live here among the Yarraville aesthetes, until I moved here among the post-Soviet nomads. (Am I the first person to make the transition? I like to think so.)
Today after church, I revisited with some friends. We went to a lovely Japanese eatery (no plain-spoken restaurants here, thank you!) called Ajitoya. We sampled a little sake, ate plentifully of the gyoza and the karaage ( marinated deep fried chicken, "outside crunchy, inside squishy"), and enjoyed the funky design of the place. We then migrated to a cafe with even funkier design and great coffee. Naturally, I was extremely happy.
This time in Australia is a gift. Time with family and friends who love me, amazing food, beautiful things, as much sleep as I want, time to read books and reconnect with old pleasures. I want to savour it. I want to be purposeful and intent about replenishing and healing. I want to spend more time with God than I ever have. I'm deep-down thankful!
Friday, June 21, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
picture from here.
I listened to a smashing sermon today. Tim Keller on The Song of Creation, which you can listen to here for free. He takes Genesis 1 as the poem that it is and makes a beautiful case for enjoying the world. Along the way, he quotes C.S. Lewis, Simone Weil, Augustine, and George Whitfield, who are all reasons in themselves to listen.
Oh, and if you've ever wondered how to make sense of the creation narrative in Genesis - that's another reason to listen. Keller provides a masterful framework for understanding Chapter 1.
I often listen to sermons while I walk. On this occasion, I was walking to The Plaza (in Wezza, full of Shazzas and Bazzas). There is a nice, typically Australian stretch of parkland along the way, with lots of classical gumtrees, some tennis courts, and a woodchipped playground. Apparently, this morning was the coldest morning in Melbourne for ten years, but the sun was bright and the skies blue by the time I was out, and not a bogan to be seen.
Anyway, it was pleasant. The pleasantest things of all were the birds. Lovely native honeyeaters, warbling magpies, friendly galahs. At one point I stopped, paused the sermon, stood blissfully in the sun, listened to the magpies (trying to avoid their beady eyes and sharp beaks - a childhood fear of magpie aggression has never quite left me!), and watched the galahs as they waddled and feasted on the ground.
I paused because I had just listened to these words, which I will now transcribe for you:
"'Haven't you ever noticed that when you come near the animals they growl at us, they bark at us, the birds screech at us and fly away? Do you know why? They know that we have a quarrel with their master.' (Whitfield) Nature is praising God and being what God made it to be, by and large, but we're not: it's inviting us into a song that we can't sing. The reason nature is singing a song of praise is because it's under the benediction of God; it's singing that 'Our Maker loves us; our Maker says that we're good; He enjoys us, delights in us.'"
"…Deep in your soul, you need to know that your Maker looks at you and says, 'You are good, you are right, I love you, you have no flaws, I see no blemish on you.' You need to know that your Maker sings to you of your beauty. You need that. But you know that you're not good, that you're not right with him, you know that you've rebelled…we can't sing the song…so what are we going to do?"
Keller has a lyrical way, at times. He goes on to point to the Word made flesh: "The very opposite of Creation happened to Jesus on the cross. He was decreated, deconstructed. Why? Our Maker had to be unmade so that we could be remade. Our Creator had to be decreated so we could be recreated...until you know that, you can't join the song."
So I stood there in God's sun, watching God's birds and breathing his air, and longing to join the choir. As far from beautiful as could be. Sleep-deprived, unwashed hair, filthy hiking boots (for want of better shoes), and a wallowing misery derived from deep culture shock and burn-out.
And I took the sun as a gift, and the birds as a benediction, and my misery as wisdom in the making, and I thought: one day. One day my song will be flawless, too. One day I will understand the heights and depths and breadths of God's impossible love for me, and then I will join the choir.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
You never get used to this. The cold-water wrenching shock of sudden farewells, the transit from one family-like community into another one, less familiar now. Once more, the students I consider my children - even brothers and sisters sometimes - are scattered to the wind and will never reform as family. It's the annual grieving. You never get used to this.
Frankly, I'm scared about coming home to Australia. I'm scared because people will have changed, as I have changed. I'm not sure who I am in that place anymore. I'm not sure I have interesting or important things to do and say there. I'm not sure I have a place - I'll have to dig out a temporary one. And my arms are pretty tired.
I am thankful, though. This will be blessed rest in the care of people who love me. This will be a chance to get people excited about Kyrgyzstan. This is an opportunity to make new connections and find spiritual refreshment. This is God's gift of replenishment.
Now, to gird my loins and luggage and wait out an extremely tedious series of flights and passenger lounges.