It has been a long day in transit to Joburg, slowly (and honestly hesitantly) moving into my unknown future as I made my way from where I woke this morning in Plumstead (Cape Town) to what will be my new home in the Johannesburg area. My mind was moving nonstop in the car the airport, anxiously sitting and waiting at the airports or on the plane… and finally now as I sit in the building that will one day be the new SHADE office in Walkerville, South Africa. I have few words but am appreciating the time to breathe deep and take in my surroundings with no demands or expectations as I wander around the property and breathe deeply the fresh air.
We are far, far from town, beyond the reaches of public transit. I have no idea yet what my home will look like, only glimpses of the picture painted through the brief words of my roommates who moved in on Monday. Four days later, I was hesitant to leave the life, family and city I love, but with each passing moment I am accepting the peace and serenity of the day, resting in the comfort that our Creator has something in store for me here that none of us could predict. I do not know what awaits me here, but something about the uneasy and unrelenting the frustration and pain that has brought me here, also brings me comfort. peace, even.
To be here, today, at peace with the path I am on has not come easily and has required a great deal of humility. It also does not come without continued reservation. I am seeking to find silver lining in all things, in the rest and opportunity to process that this afternoon has provided. Yet I will not deny the frustration with being here, only a couple of miles from my home and roommates that I look forward to seeing and greeting. 4½ hours later after arrival here, I remain here stranded, without transport (the cars have all left to run other errands), without reason for being present here, in want of a warm shower or a bed to rest on after a sleepless night and early morning. It reminds me that few things have changed, that this is somehow what I have signed up for.
This continues to humble me. To remind me that this isn’t about me. It isn’t about what might be good for me or about what seems rational or “right” or “reasonable” in my mind, but rather it boils down to me not having my own transport, and the owner of the vehicles has their own life to live, errands to run, people to see. So I will wait. I might go home before the daylight has gone, I might not. My roommates waiting for me have no idea what is going on; I have been asked not to phone them so it is a “surprise” when I arrive - but perhaps they are concerned, as they know our flight was scheduled to land over 7 hours ago. But then, that is my “rational” western mind thinking in western time, when I am in neither of those places anymore. Which is why it is okay and not surprising to discover just now that a celebration has been planned this evening - which we are all expected to attend - in honor of Judith who received passing Matric grades yesterday, and Lucy, who got engaged over the holidays. It is unclear what time that will be or if I will go home before then, but at least we can be sure that when the girls are fetched, I will go home with them after the celebration.
That is how my life is, and perhaps will be, for the year to come. Much of my time is spent in limbo, waiting, at the call of another who is often impatient if I am not ready when they call. It is an interesting predicament to find myself in, struggling with the lack of order as one may call it, when throughout my life I have always been the one, at least in the western perspective, who has been the most “flexible” or “go-with-the-flow.” I am not one who likes to over-plan, and have certainly never been the most organized. I am known for my incredible skills at procrastinating, leading to far too many late nights in grad school. Yet something about what feels like a structure-less environment has left me wanting, needing, grasping for some organization and order. For the first time in my life, I understand the question once asked to me by a good friend (Amee), “How do you do it!?” That is - how do I live a life of such unstructured freedom where I dont plan my life but live each moment as it comes, often leading to more stress later but somehow always managing to get things done. There were so many questions to follow in that conversation, and I just couldn’t understand how or why anyone would live any other way.
Today, I am in disbelief at hearing myself as the one who is asking those questions, and I can’t help but smile as I hear the laughter of friends and classmates who would not believe me if I tried to tell them this. I wonder what the balance is between how much I have truly changed, and how much the environment has simply drawn these things out of me through necessity. Perhaps my myers briggs personality has shifted, and I am more of a “J” than anyone ever believed I could be. Or perhaps what we are really learning is none of these things, but that truly, these things are all relative, purely a reflection of the environment in which we find ourselves. Maybe according to my peers in seminary, I would still be considered a “P.” I can’t help but wonder, then, how Amee would react if living here, now, under these circumstances.
Just when I start to ask these questions and dive deeper in, though, something surfaces that stops me. Again, it is that overwhelming sense of peace with it all, reminding me that it doesn’t actually matter. Reminding me of what great opportunities this life has presented to me, and most of all, making me grateful for all that is before me. That though I am not home (with my roommates a few miles away), I am sheltered from the pouring rain. I am offered food to eat, water to drink and am surrounded by people who care about me. I have so much, am so richly blessed, so deeply challenged and changing, I can hardly begin to count these blessings.
I believe this journey today to be representative of the journey the next year will bring me through. It has highs and lows, frustrations and deep joys, times to learn and opportunities to teach. It is an unpredictable journey that has potential for great blessings if I continue to seek God in each day, resting in the great peace that surpasses all understanding, and seeking to share that love and grace with those I encounter. Even when it humbles me.