Sunday, June 15

Everything Belongs

I recently finished reading Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr. Much of the book spoke to where I am, or where I need to be.

On being spiritually hungry:
"The rich can satisfy their loneliness and longing in false ways, in quick fixes that avoid the necessary learning. In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. That's why the poor have a head start. They can't resort to an instant fix to any problem: aspirin, a trip, or some entertainment. They remain empty whether they want to or not."

On being nothing:
"When we are nothing, we are in a fine position to receive everything from God. If we look at all the great religious traditions, we see they use those words. The Franciscan word would be poverty. The Carmelite word would be nada, nihil - nothingness. The Buddhists speak of emptiness. Jesus preferred to talk in images so he spoke of the desert. The desert is where we are voluntarily understimulated. No feedback. No new data. That's why he says go to the closet. That's where we stop living out of other people's response to us. We can then say, I am not who you think I am. Nor am I whom you need me to be. I must be nothing in order to be open to all of reality and new reality."

On thresholds (where I got my threshold reference in the previous post):
"We have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality. All transformation takes place there. We have to move out of business as usual and remain on the threshold where we are betwixt and between. There, the old world is left behind, but we're not sure of the new one yet. That's a good space. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible. It's the realm where God can best get at us because we are out of the way. In sacred space the old world is able to fall apart, and the new world is able to be revealed. If we don't find liminal space in our lives, we start idolizing normalcy."

(I do believe this is some kind of record...three posts in one day? I'm making up for lost time!)

understanding and being understood

If I were less of a transient, there are a lot of things I would never understand about life. If I had chosen a more normal lifestyle, I wouldn't be so dependent on people. Sometimes I want to go back to Asia just so I can have a more normal life. I can be a full time student or get a full time job, have a schedule, ride my bike or take the bus, have my own cell phone and not inconvenience others. It's easy to get around on public transportation and it's really inexpensive to buy a SIM card to put in your phone and use for however long you're there. I have been using my Mom's cell phone here. She told me today that she bought a pay-as-you-go phone, which is really what I should have done so she could keep her phone. She's also paying for short term insurance for me. My Dad bought my Gramaw's car for me to use while I'm here. I live at my Grandmother's house when I'm not visiting somewhere else.

Of course, I could have all of those things almost as easily (without imposition to others) if I chose to stay here, too. I could get a normal job with normal insurance, not have to worry about a 2 year phone contract, and find my own place to live. And, although rare, there are times when I have considered that in the last 10 months.

I'm really blessed to have a family that can take care of me in those ways and I'm really thankful for them. They also support me, even though they'd rather me stay here and be more normal.

I talked to a friend tonight who is in much of the same situation as I am. She came back to the States a few months after me and wants to go back to the same place I do. We're both struggling with plugging in to our communities here, using other people's cars and issues with cell phones. I got to see her in LA when I went through, which was a huge blessing. It's nice to be able to talk to someone who understands where you are and where you want to be. We prayed together at the end of the conversation and it was so good. We prayed for provision for things we need, to be able to be committed to being here while we're here - to have the right balance of keeping our hearts set on going back but also really being here too.

I am waiting on financial support to go back, but I believe that God is using this waiting period to prepare me as well as prepare the people who are sending me, and making us one team. I actually believe he could pour the money down right now if the time were right. Purification, pruning, teaching, being dependent on him are all things I have to learn and can learn best in this threshold place - where I've left one room and am on the verge of being in another place, but not yet.

I watched this on CNN last night and I cried, unexpectedly, a few times. Because of scenes of reconciliation and hope. Because I'm drawn to this country in a way that I don't think I could have manufactured on my own.

I consider it a luxury to be understood, but I think it's a luxury that we're all entitled to - perhaps for some of us to the extent that we are willing to understand.

with us

We watched Rob Bell's rain video at church this morning. It gives perspective on the heart of our Father, and how trials, storms, the times we cry out to God are times when God draws us close. We often think he's forgotten us or can't hear our cries, but they are times when he treasures being close to us and loving us.

I can look back at recent and not-so-recent times that I've felt alone, but then gotten perspective on how God has been close and tender with me in those times. A good reminder that he's with us.

Wednesday, June 11

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
-John LeCarre

Thursday, June 5

some lessons learned on the trip

I've been back on US soil for two weeks now, about five days of that being in LA, which doesn't really count, because it was still part of the trip. Anyhow, about time I should post a little about the trip to China.

It was excellent in so many ways. I got to spend some quality time with people and learn from them, which was just what needed to happen. I think the reasons for me going back at that time might even become more clear later, but for now, here are some of the things I got to learn.
  • My first morning in Shanghai, I bought baozi (dumplings) and soy milk from a street vendor. While my Chinese is very limited, I fooled that guy into thinking that I could speak it well. When I got to Yanji and got to speak Korean, I remembered that I love to speak those two languages. It gives me a new fuel to study and find opportunities to speak them here.
  • I wanted to be an encouragement to others, but I received much more encouragement from the friends I met there. It's just good to be with people who share the same vision and realize I still fit in there.
  • I felt God's presence and help in small, yet very real ways.
  • I felt a renewed importance to prepare well for the future, to be pure in heart, to live more simply, to love more, to work for unity. Real challenges for me.
  • I was reminded that the journey (this waiting time in particular) is part of the plan. It's not a stall in the plan.
For the many of the same reasons that it is hard for me to be in the States, I know I need to be here for a little while longer. (My new target date to leave is November unless something really incredible happens.) I need to pour myself into the reasons that I can see for being here and hope that if there are any other purposes for me to be here that I'll be able to see those as I go.

And then God answered: "Write this. Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness pointing to what's coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn't lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time.
(Habakkuk 2:2,3)