“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back?” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
A friend recently posted this Tolkien quote on Facebook and honestly it really speaks to the new season we’re in.
Many of you may not know, but we are in fact back in Australia. We are visiting family and friends in Melbourne before we head to Brisbane. It is our final stop and first taste of life back home.
Part of me is so excited to be back. Honestly, our first shop in Woolworths filled me with so much joy! Our first meal… oh a beautiful flat white with avocado, feta and poached eggs on toast mmmmm. Thank You Jesus. The positives are not hard to name, the lack of language and cultural barriers alone are truly bliss. However, the other part of me remembers all we have seen and heard and can’t easily just slip back into normal life.
During our travels, one of the biggest cultural differences that stood out to us was the materialism of Western Culture. Even now, after our travels, I want to rush out and buy everything I see and have all the home comforts I’ve missed during the last seven months. I want to re-do Amy’s bedroom to suit her hilarious two-year-old self. I want to eat what I want and would love to be able to afford lots of the things I see in the clothes and home-ware shops. It’s consumerism at it’s best.
However, I also don’t want to forget the girl living in the Brazilian slum who dreams to one day live in a house. I don’t want to be so consumed with my own ‘wants’ that I forget other people’s ‘needs’. I don’t want to rush into acclimating that I forget all the lessons we have learned.
Let me tell you a story about a bathroom we used during our travels:
Firstly, the hand basin tap constantly leaked and the drainage pipe wasn’t actually attached to the wall plumbing, so when you washed your hands you had to step back so you didn’t get water all over your feet. Secondly, the toilet tap on the back wall constantly leaked as well, so I would frequently squeegee the floor just to feel a little better (honestly it was a waste of time). Other people also used the toilet in the bathroom, especially during community kids programs and church meetings. Everyone would put his or her toilet paper in a bin next to the toilet and every now and then, there would be a little surprise in the bowl just waiting to be discovered. There was no toilet roll holder, so it was either kept on the hand basin or on a nail about three-quarters of the way up the wall near the door, which it mostly fell off of. Needless to say finding dry toilet paper was always a little bonus. Lastly, the shower. It was directly next to the toilet with no curtain to separate it, so once again the whole room would get wet. It had an open drain with no grate, so anything you dropped was gone for good. It also only had cold water and Amy used to cry whenever I tried to take her in with me. Oh and there were mosquitos everywhere.
One night I was having a freezing cold shower while dodging about five or six mosquitos and I realized how lucky I was. I knew there were people not too far away living in worse conditions. In fact there were people all over the world who would count themselves blessed to be able to have a cold shower, use a toilet and sleep in a room. I felt incredibly blessed even while I frustratingly put on my wet PJs.
It is this gratefulness and perspective I don’t want to forget. In Australia, Tim and I work hard, save what we can and try to be good stewards with our money. By Australian standards, we are far from rich, but honestly… Who cares? We are very blessed and not just by material standards.
It is a lot to process and I’m still recovering from a nasty sinus infection and re-adjusting to Australian food after three months in Asia (oh the digestive joys). I know reconciling these two world-views will take time. However I do worry that the latter will slowly disappear as we reintegrate back into home-life.
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life?” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
I do not think you can pick up the threads of an old life. Well maybe you can, but I don’t actually want to. That would be like nothing ever happened. Tim and I will need to make new threads, new stories about how we want to live. How we will spend our time, money and other resources. We will try to merge together our old life and the last seven months and that will take time and possibly several mistakes.
I was talking to Tim last night about this tension and he reminded me that God has us where we are right now. We are to live in this season, in this culture. It’s ok to buy Amy a new bed and it’s also ok to re-do our budget and reassess our time to make sure it’s being put to the greatest use. It is a process, it is difficult and once again… it will take time. It’s still part of our adventure.
Love Jess xxoo