It’s Sunday. I’ve had a bug the last few days that have had me down for the count, missing work, missing gourmet dinner parties planned for weeks, and this morning missing worship. The sunshine is pouring into the front windows of the sunroom in my “new” apt. and I just made myself a cup of tea. Not just any kind of tea, this is Turkish Apple tea. This is my first use of my “souvenir” purchase while in Istanbul what is now 9 months ago. It’s reddish color (and in theory it’s taste, but to be honest my nose is too stuffy to actually taste it L) reminds me of the city and reminds me of the laughs and cultural observations and sightings of gorgeous tile on almost every corner and evenings on rooftop terraces that I shared with dear friends while I was there, along with the embarrassing appearance of my freakishly strong tendency towards insecurity that reared it’s ugly head while traveling with said friends.
It’s these memories, memories of watching small starving children re-learn to walk, memories of working side by side friends/fellow nurses who taught me soooo much, memories of worshipping with brothers and sisters in a language I knew very little of, memories of relaxing candle lit dinners after really long really hard days and retiring to the “more comfortable seating” afterwards to chat, memories of dinner around the table with my family chatting and laughing about everything under the sun, memories of hot summer evenings sitting with binoculars at the Muny trying to see as much of the Grease production on the stage as we could hear through the speakers amplified up through the hundreds of rows of spectators…these memories that while you’re in them you don’t want them to end, but they do.
This last week a Seminary staff person spoke about loss, about change, in these terms…in terms of the momentary and eternal schemes of things. The tears came a tumblin’ down. In the moment, we don’t want these glimpses of heaven to end, but because this world is finite, they must. But what we (or I guess I should speak for myself) or I don’t think about is the eternal scheme of things. These moments we never want to end but do, these friendships we never want to end but are taken away, these situations we never want to change but do, they are only a foretaste, but not the goal. My tendency is to make these moments my idol, to long for them and others like them, to say “one day, eternity will be like this!” What I learned this week is that these moments PALE in comparison to what we were made for. Yes, they are FOR SURE a taste, but we were made for and will one day experience MUCH MORE! In fact, eternity will be far better than this!
One day there will be relationships that will never be severed, there will be community that will never be lost, there will be feasts that will never end, there will be life without death, there will be experiences of the wild/wonderful world God has made with people we love and who love us that are not tainted with insecurity, not tainted with sin against one another or in the world around us…God gives us glimpses of what that might look like but even the best glimpses POINT US to something bigger and better, to our Father and to His kingdom which is coming!
When I think about leaving again in a year…leaving people I have only grown to love more in my time here in the US again, in the likely eventual deterioration of relationships from so much change and distance...the tears come a tumblin’ down. When I think about committing to live my life this way, one of constant change and loss, I wonder “what the h*&# am I thinking?!?!” I’m still not sure of the answer to that question, but it helps to know that these gifts are not the goal, but point to the life we were made for, the home, the stability, the relationships with Father and Brother and others we were made for which are to come.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake To guide the future, as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart, And all is darkened in the vale of tears, Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart, Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears. Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.