Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Two more days to pack up all my stuff (too much), write some last letters, say goodbye. I don’t even know where to begin...
Yesterday I ordered library books and sorted out plans with Zoe and Anna for the weekend I get back and it makes me more excited than I can say (also the Stanley Cup final, if it gets that far, is the evening I get back...what a welcome home, eh?). It was odd, suddenly one day a week ago it was like BANG I'm ready and can't wait to get home now. But still it’s a guarded enthusiasm because I know I’m going to miss this place like crazy once I’m actually gone. I’m writing this during my last time on duty in the studio and it feels like just another lecture, just another day. Just another coffee break and rainstorm.
Last night instead of lectures we had a ‘student sharing time’ and then worship. It was fantastic—and I finally began to realise that this is all ending. Last night there was such a feeling of community, such a bond between everyone. The only thing we all have in common is loving Jesus (and now spending nine months together) and that is enough, more than enough.
One of the German girls talked about how if it was the people who changed you here, you’ll go back to the way you were when they’re gone, and if it was the place that changed you everything will be the same when you’re back home, but if God changed you, He will continue to work in you wherever you are. I needed to hear that. He is the same God at home as He is here. The same Spirit is at work in my mundane town as in places that seem beautiful and exotic. Here in this castle hidden away in the hills, our hands are clean and our lives are simple, but that’s not what we were made for.
When I remember Capernwray I will think of custard and fish pie, climbing out the fire escape after lockup, talent shows, dances, discussing the drama in my friends’ lives, inside jokes, screaming over Doctor Who, and exploring everything from Borwick to Malta. But I will also think of impromptu worship/jam sessions, long deep conversations, vulnerability, baptisms in the pool, going for walks with only Jesus, being able to spontaneously pray for anything and with anyone. There is so much...so much.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It’s midnight or so so this entry will consist of scattered and incoherent snippets. This is stating the obvious but just so you know.
Today I went on a walk with my favourite Ashley. It was meant to just be around the Loop which is like half an hour, but it turned into a two and a half hour trek. We braved herds of cattle, mammoth hills, and winds so strong you could lean back and not fall. And discovered mole corpses hung on a fence and a house guarded by stone dragons and other such exciting things.
England is gorgeous. I forget this a lot and then every so often I will walk outside and BAM. Beauty everywhere.
For the next few days we have a speaker named Ridge Burns who is hilarious and out-of-the-box and very very American. He started by breaking us into small groups for discussion and moving the desks out of rows and into random places around the room and then he distributed notes by tossing them off the stage and letting them fall around the room and I thought, I like this guy. So far all we’ve done is a spiritual gifts test (not strictly Spiritual Gifts Called Spiritual Gifts in Scripture, more God-given Gifts That Can Be Spiritual) and I got highest on missions. HAHA. Irony. Who knew. Though he defined it as using whatever other gifts you have, for God’s glory, in a different culture, so not always evangelism specifically, and that fits pretty well, I think... Got just about zero on tongues and leadership and organisation. Surprise!
I made a list of things I am looking forward to about home, because it is 23 days until Capernwray is over and 28 days until I am back in the True North Strong And Free and I am not really looking forward to leaving at the moment. Such as:
-My mum’s cooking... Perogies, waffles with strawberries and chocolate sauce, homemade pizza, curry (proper curry not omnipresent and ersatz Capernwray curry), baked goods of various kinds, meat that I can eat without being reminded of all the terrifying and grim facts that I learned while working at P&G Sausage last year...
-Seeing you people. Obviously. This would be right at the top of the list except that I am justmaybekindof STARVING at the moment. Not like you guessed that, or anything...
-Playing piano without bothering about anyone listening
-Attempting to teach myself guitar
-Being around people who are older and younger than me
-That graduationy ceremony danceish thing that the ingenious Madame Zoe is planning
-Being allowed to use British words (by accident, of course) without sounding like a complete poseur
-Not parting with £1.50 every time I wish to wear clean clothes
-Going to the beach
-Forcing my family to watch/listen to some of the movies and music I’ve discovered since being here (prepare yourselves, guys)
-The TWU choir
-Proper mountains, not these occasional lumps of uneven earth that are known as “mountains” around here
-Having more confidence because of what I’ve seen and experienced here
-Having a chance to put what I’ve learned into practise
Um. Yes. I’ll shut up now. Peace out. Cheers. Farewell.
Friday, May 6, 2011
...To God or to the world?'
Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.
As long as I keep running about asking: 'Do you love me? Do you really love me?' I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with 'ifs.' The world says: 'Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much.' There are endless 'ifs' hidden in the world's love. These 'ifs' enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world's love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain 'hooked' to the world ' trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart. '
I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father? I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me ' my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts ' and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God. Yes, I often carry them off to a 'distant country' and put them in the service of an exploiting world that does not know their true value.
It's almost as if I want to prove to myself and to my world that I do not need God's love, that I can make a life on my own, that I want to be fully independent. Beneath it all is the great rebellion, the radical 'No' to the Father's love, the unspoken curse: “I wish you were dead.” The prodigal son's 'No' reflects Adam's original rebellion: his rejection of the God in whose love we are created and by whose love we are sustained. It is the rebellion that places me outside the garden, out of reach of the tree of life. It is the rebellion that makes me dissipate myself in a 'distant country.' '
The great event I see [in the return of the prodigal son] is the end of the great rebellion. The rebellion of Adam and all his descendants is forgiven, and the original blessing by which Adam received everlasting life is restored. It seems to me now that these hands have always been stretched out ' even when there were no shoulders upon which to rest them. God has never pulled back his arms, never withheld his blessing, never stopped considering his son the Beloved One. But the Father couldn't compel his son to stay home. He couldn't force his love on the Beloved. He had to let him go in freedom, even though he knew the pain it would cause both his son and himself. It was love itself that prevented him from keeping his son home at all cost. It was love itself that allowed him to let his son find his own life, even with the risk of losing it.
Here the mystery of my life is unveiled. I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. The blessing is there from the beginning. I have left it and keep on leaving it. But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and whisper in my ear: 'You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.’"
-Henri Nouwen, Reflections on the Return of the Prodigal Son
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I spent the last five days of spring break in Germany with my relatives—my grandpa’s sisters and their family. Most of them I had never met before, but everyone was amazingly kind, I was bowled over by their generosity. Saw Bergen Belsen and a castley place, did a lot of biking, and walked around Hamburg, it was pretty great. Hamburg reminds me a little bit of Vancouver—it looks more modern than old because so much of it was destroyed when the British bombed it during the war, and it’s right on the water and there are plenty of green places. So many things about those four days reminded me of home, and of my grandparents and the German side of my family and of the place I worked last year... So similar, but so far away; so much the same, but not.
And staying in someone’s house is a massively different type of travelling than backpacking is, let me tell you. Lots of stories to tell about that, but I’ll save them for real life.... :P I spent the last night in the airport (neglected to mention that detail of the plan to the German relatives, because I knew they would flip, but I think they found out anyway haha. nonetheless, so long, Manchester Airport! My days of sleeping in your Terminal 2 are over forever!) and took the train to Carnforth the next morning. Showers and proper beds and clean clothes are wonderful, wonderful things. Never forget that, people.
It’s been over a week now and we’re 1/7 through spring school. A little less than half of the people here were at winter school and a little more than half of them are new and it’s the oddest dynamic, for both sides. I don’t envy the spring school people who have to come into a place where half the school already knows each other and already has their established friendships, but at the same time, we all miss people from winter school and so much is different and I don’t know, it’s just weird. I think a lot of people are kind of subconsciously avoiding the effort it takes to get to know new people and sticking with their old friend groups, just because eight weeks is so short and leaving everyone at winter school was hard and you can’t help feeling a bit of “the more people I become friends with, the more it will hurt to leave again.” And leaving IS going to hurt, it’s going to hurt a lot. I didn’t expect this to be very different than the last six months were but it is, not worse, just odd.
aaanyway. Apart from psychological phenomenons such as the above and that kind of thing, spring school has been a blast so far. It’s been gorgeous weather, I am in the Lower Tower with two lovely roommates, everything is super chill because there are hardly any assignments, and we’re in the midst of some brilliant lectures this week by Derek Burnside on the life of Solomon (today was Song of Solomon, oh was that interesting...haha. It was, though! Ever heard it as a love story between a country girl and her man, with Solomon and his promiscuity as the villain? nope, neither had I.)
June feels like ages away, but it’s only seven weeks until I’m home and this adventure is over...
Monday, April 4, 2011
nothing is as great as you've imagined. Venice is--Venice is better." --Fran Lebowitz
I haven't seen much of it so far so I can't agree or disagree with that yet, but we are finally in Venezia! after a ten-hour journey from Florence. Which should not have happened but apperently we bought tickets for a four-in-the-morning train that does not exist. Five different trains and much stress later, here we are; I will spare you the details.
So now we're at our hostel. Craziest place I've stayed at yet. Everyone is super friendly and the place is run so casually that all I can do is laugh. The rooms are lit by chandeliers but the floor is made of crumbling cement and the paint is coming off the walls. The staff are determined to memorise everyone's names, the girl in the bed next to mine has been living here for next to forever, there are only two showers for the entire hostel, and apparently the staff takes whoever wants to out at night to experience Venice's nightlife. I learned this from a girl I met in Rome who stayed here, who told elabourate stories involving drunkeness and falling into canals (somehow I do not find this tempting).
I'm sitting on the balcony overlooking the canal right now and a mad thunderstorm is going on outside. In between typing this I'm talking to a girl from Hong Kong, with a bunch of people swapping travel stories in the room behind me, and wind blowing through the wide open doors but nobody cares.
I think I like this place :)