Although I'm South African, I'm originally from Durban so our move to Cape Town hasn't exactly been a homecoming. It's something a little different, particularly because I'm returning with Eugene (who grew up in Seoul and has U.S. and Korean family), Noah and Tiny Blob.
I wrote a while ago that our move has helped remind me that I can still have dreams and hopes for the future- even if different, less individualistic dreams than those from childhood. In Boston, I felt part of a breed of students who came and never left, like something in my story had gone awry. I was very attached to the overarching story of my life, rather than to the joy of individual moments or the place those moments seemed to be leading.
|Lia and Sergio took us to this church that was built twice- parts are as old as a millennium, and parts are much younger. I really liked the combination. Noah ate maybe 8 clementines outside the church, so we're checking that he's still alive.
Rather than recounting this overarching plan, I'll just refer you to Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. Originality has never been my strength.
Somewhere in the middle of this story came unexpected illness and commitment to an abusive church. Eug and my marriage was suggested by leaders in the church, where suggestions were not just suggestions, and where the construct of marriage was about service to the church and taking a big step of faith for God. After we left the church in 2008, it was very hard to hold in tension my commitment to our marriage as something real and binding (and full of love) and my hope that others not go through what we did. I had returned to the U.S. to marry Eug- We'd married, I hadn't studied medicine, I was now deep in debt (ah, BU) and wasn't really sure what was next, since it seemed like it would take a miracle to leave the U.S. this time.
|I love this style of semi-detached houses where we live now.
Fast-forward five years: Returning to South Africa this year did feel miraculous, and it meant a return to that overarching story. Yet it was an outward return to a story we'd been living for a while. In Boston, our lives were rich. After leaving the southern baptist church, we experienced a lot of healing at the Greater Boston Vineyard. We were tremendously helped by the idea that practical things- money, how we spend our time, how we relate to family, how we treat the poor, how we work- could be part of creating heaven on earth. We could be part of glimpses of God right here, right now.
|We have time to read the local newspaper. And by local, I mean the People's Post for people living in the immediate 2.5 km radius in Salt River and Woodstock. Eug and I read every story.
Eug and I are both parts of this bigger story. In Boston, the blessings loomed large (baby Noah after miscarriages, paying off debt, having work, friends, a sunny day, Snow Emergencies, Panera, Trader Joe's, etc) whereas here, my sense is that the bigger story must take center stage for a while while the rest is in flux. We're vulnerable to throwing up our hands and giving in to the uncertainty. I'm not sure if that makes sense- what I mean is that we have fewer grounding facts of our life here- few friends, few plans, few belongings, less financial control, less work, no church yet, and in a strange way, less to struggle against and more struggle.
|Noah eats a Super C. For an hour. With pictures.
In this context, realizing that God is good and that we are part of much, much bigger story seems either like small comfort or like more than enough to sustain us through unsettled times. I'm hoping it can be plenty, and also that we can catch glimpses of that story even as life seems strange. May God bless you in your part in the story. And have a great Lent, if you are thinking about Lent this year.