Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Been A Year...

Today a year ago we arrived in Luxembourg.  It was just the beginning of what has been thee most amazing time where I have learnt so much about myself that I probably would never have known had we not taken the leap.

I had in my my mind to blog things that I felt / thought over this year - however, I came across this blog post and it really just said everything far better than I ever could.

I have copied the article, written by Angie Castells word for word just to make it easier - but you can find it here with all the pics.  

So, except for #7, (I don't know if I will ever master this, because I see everyone as a possible life-long friend!), and the fact that we live in Luxembourg and not Edinburgh -  this speaks loud and clear for me too. It's long-ish, but I didn't want to edit it, because it is so beautifully written....

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17 Things that Change Forever when you Live Abroad....

"You face new challenges, you get to know parts of you you didn’t know existed, you’re amazed at yourself and at the world. You learn, you broaden your horizons. You unlearn, and after coming down and embracing a few lessons, you start growing in humility. You evolve. You feel homesick… and you shape memories that will stay with you forever. If you’ve ever lived away from home or embarked on a long journey, I’m sure you too have felt these 17 things that change forever when you live abroad.
1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen up, and for a while the world “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for an ever rising adrenalin thrill ride. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew should terrify you, but it’s unusually addictive.
2. But when you go back… everything looks the same.
That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. Your life’s been changing at a non-stop pace, and you’re on holidays and ready to share all those anecdotes you’ve been piling up. But, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.
3. You lack the (and yet you have too many) words.
When someone asks you about your new life, you lack the right words to convey all you’re experiencing. Yet later, in the middle of a random conversation, something reminds you about ‘that time when’…, and you have to hold your tongue because you don’t want to overwhelm everyone with stories from your ‘other country’ and come across as pretentious.
4. You come to understand that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared, too, know that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it, do you really feel like doing it? Then do it. From the moment we decide to jump, we’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we deal with it.
«It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.»
5. And, suddenly, you’re free.
You’ve always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you’ve given up every comfort and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you’re capable of anything!
6. You no longer speak one particular language.
Sometimes you unintentionally let a word from another language slip. Other times you can only think of a way of saying something… with that perfect word which, by the way, is in the wrong language. When you interact with a foreign language on a daily basis, you learn and unlearn at the same time. All the while you’re soaking up cultural references and swear words in your second language, you find yourself reading in your mother tongue so it won’t get rusty. Like that time when Homer took a home winemaking course and forgot how to drive.
7. You learn to say goodbye… and to enjoy yourself.
You soon realize that now, most things and people in your life are just passing through, and you instinctively play down the importance of most situations. You perfect the right balance between bonding and letting go – a perpetual battle between nostalgia and pragmatism.
8. You have two of everything.
Two SIM cards (one of them packed with phone numbers from all over the world), two library cards, two bank accounts… And two types of coins, which always end up mysteriously mixing when you’re about to pay for something.
9. Normal? What’s normal?
Living abroad, like traveling, makes you realise that ‘normal’ only means socially or culturally accepted. When you plunge into a different culture and a different society, your notion of normality soon falls apart. You learn there’s other ways of doing things, and after a while, you too take to that habit you never thought you’d embrace. You also get to know yourself a little better, because you discover that some things you really believe in, while others are just a cultural heritage of the society you grew up in.
10. You become a tourist in your own city.
That tourist trap you may not have visited in your country only adds up to the never-ending list of things to do in your new home, and you soon become quite the expert on your new city. But when someone comes over for a few days and asks for some suggestions, you find it really hard to recommend but a few things – if it were up to you, you’d recommend visiting everything!
11. You learn how to be patient… and how to ask for help.
When you live abroad, the simplest task can become a huge challenge. Processing paperwork, finding the right word, knowing which bus to take. There’s always moments of distress, but you’re soon filled with more patience than you ever knew you had in you, and accept that asking for help is not only inevitable, but also a very healthy habit.
12. Time is measured in tiny little moments.
It’s as if you were looking through the car window – everything moves really slowly at the back, in the distance, while in front of you life passes by at full speed. On the one hand, you receive news from home – birthdays you missed, people who left without you getting the chance to say goodbye one last time, celebrations you won’t be able to attend. On the other hand, in your new home life goes by at top speed. Time is so distorted now, that you learn how to measure it in tiny little moments, either a Skype call with your family and old friends or a pint with the new ones.
13. Nostalgia strikes when you least expect it.
A food, a song, a smell. The smallest trifle can overwhelm you with homesickness. You miss those little things you never thought you’d miss, and you’d give anything to go back to that place, even if it were just for an instant. Or to share that feeling with someone who’d understand you…
14. But you know it’s not where, but when and how.
Although deep down, you know you don’t miss a place, but a strange and magical conjunction of the right place, the right moment and the right people. That year when you traveled, when you shared your life with special ones, when you were so happy. There’s a tiny bit of who you were scattered among all the places you’ve lived in, but sometimes going back to that place is not enough to stop missing it.
15. You change.
I’m sure you’ve heard about life-changing trips. Well, they’re not a commonplace – living abroad is a trip that will profoundly change your life and who you are. It will shake up your roots, your certainties and your fears. Living in Edinburgh changed us forever in many ways, and if it weren’t for that experience, we probably wouldn’t be about to embark on our next life adventure right now. Maybe you won’t realise it, or even believe it, before you do it. But after some time, one day you’ll see it crystal clear. You’ve evolved, you’ve got scars, you’ve lived. You’ve changed.
16. You fit your home into a suitcase.
From the moment you squeeze your life into a suitcase (or, if you’re lucky with your airline, two), whatever you thought ‘home’ was doesn’t exist anymore. Almost anything you can touch can be replaced – wherever you travel, you’ll end up stockpiling new clothes, new books, new mugs. But there will come a day when you’ll suddenly feel at home in your new city. Home is the person traveling with you, the people you leave behind, the streets where your life takes place. Home is also the random stuff in your new flat, those things you’ll get rid of in the blink of an eye when the time to leave comes. Home is all those memories, all those long-distance calls with your family and friends, a bunch of pictures. Home is where the heart is.
17. And… there’s no turning back.
Now you know what it means to give up comfort, what starting from scratch and marveling at the world every day feels like. And it being such a huge, endless world… How could you choose not to keep traveling and discovering it?"
Again, you can find her complete post here with all the pics. 

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What an amazing year it has been...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Rohr-ing problem in my head. Help!!

I read this interview with Richard Rohr, and to be honest, I am reeling a little.

I have heard and read some of Richard's stuff, largely posted (or referred to) by others whose opinions I respect, but this answer of his has me really .... feeling aarghhhh!

This is only a portion of the interview, and the bit that is bugging me...What are your thoughts?

Interviewer:The question people go to again and again is What about the babies who die in Egypt? What about the villagers who get slaughtered in Judges? What about all the violence?

Richard replies:When it says Yahweh says… I know they [the writers of the Bible] wouldn’t like this but Yahweh didn’t say that. They said that. Like we do. We project our own consciousness onto God to justify our own evil behavior. We still do that-but that’s a totally different narrative for an evangelical. To them, it sounds as if you’re really relativizing the Bible. But you have to start with the human if you get the divine. Protestantism didn’t really get the incarnation-they so overplayed the redemption cross salvation through the cross thing. See from the Franciscan school the incarnation was the redemption…once God chose to be human it was good to be human! The choice of the incarnation was everything. We really popularized Christmas, Christmas was not the big feast in the first 1200 years of Christianity. Easter rightly so, was. But because of the whole Franciscan school we really sentimentalized Christmas which we still have to this day.
The incarnation solves the problem. Problem solved. I don’t need blood sacrifice to know that it’s good to be a human being.
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(read the whole interview here) (ALL EMPHASIS MINE)
  • "God didn't say that?"  SO then how will we know if everything else he said was in fact, him?
  • "The choice of the incarnation was everything.  The incarnation was the redemption. The incarnation is enough - we don't need a blood sacrifice to know it is good to be a human?"                           What's good got to do with anything?
  • "Protestantism didn’t really get the incarnation - they so overplayed the redemption cross salvation through the cross thing."  

THE CROSS THING??????????? 
  the cross THING????   
I really want to understand what he is saying here, I have heard so much that I really have loved that Richard Rohr has said, and yet this - this, "overplaying the cross thing" - what does that even mean?
The incarnation IS the redemption??  
Help me out here people.  I am not looking for a theological beating for either myself or him, I just want your thoughts on this too. 


Lost in Translation...............

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 1 - Awe and Wonder

A number of people have expressed interest in being part of this conversation after writing this blog. Which is great, please feel free to participate as much or as little as you like!

I have begun Chapter One of Brians book "We Make the Road by Walking" - It's called Awe and Wonder.  It's been difficult not to forge ahead because it's just so easy to read.

Genesis 1:1-2:3
Psalm 19:1-14
Matthew 6:25-34

Here are points from his "Engage" section at the end of the chapter:
  1.  What one thought or idea from today's lessons especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped or surprised you?      
  2. Share a story about a time when you most felt the humble awe and joyful wonder described in this chapter.  (If you don't have the book, he is talking about the goodness of creation as it was intended - so if you have a story to share about a time you felt humbled by the beauty of creation you would like to share - please feel free.)
  3. What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen? What was so special about it?
  4. This week, choose one facet of creation that you love - birds, trees, weather, soil, water, light,... etc. Observe it, think about it, learn about it whenever you get a chance with this question in mind: If that element of creation were your only Bible, what would it tell you about God?

 Q.2 is a no-brainer for me.  This is emblazoned in my memory as the only time that I thought "if I died right now, it would be OK".

I was 16 and had gone to the stables to head off on an "outride" with a bunch of other horse fanatics.  I was ahead of the pack by quite a way, and went on to the beach. As I arrived through the bush and onto a dune, I looked out over the bay. The sea was almost glass, the breeze so gentle that the wild grass just danced slowly with it. The sand seemed whiter than white and the sea bluer than blue. The sky seemed bigger, the sun felt warm on my face and the wispy clouds just hung there watching us. There wasn't another soul in sight and not a sound that didn't belong there.  It was just me and the horse.  I felt like I couldn't breathe for fear of breaking the moment.

It wasn't long before the rest caught up and the spell was broken - but even writing this makes me feel a little teary because I can still remember how incredibly small I felt and how incredibly beautiful it was.

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I will be thinking about / making notes on Q.1 as I read and will blog them and  Q.4 next week before we start the next chapter.  I think I will meditate on trees since I find myself falling in love with the forest more and more. Q.3  needs some thought.

Creation sings.
Taken on Earth Day 2014.

If you have a story to share, or anything you would like to comment on regarding any of these Engage Points, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.  (Remember to ask to be notified if anyone comments after you so that you can continue the conversation!)

Enjoy the read & meditation time this week.