As an exercise, though, I close my eyes as I sit among my neatly packaged luggage weighing in at exactly 145 lbs and 275 linear inches and think back over my past 8 months here in these United States. What events do I draw strength from? What special words of guidance ring in my memory? What faces and celebrations do I carry back with me to Costa Rica, what joys still burn like embers in my heart that I will use to kindle new fires of warmth and peace where I arrive?
These past few weeks before leaving I’ve visited with a lot of people and written several thank-you notes. In contrast to my weighty preoccupation with packing all my stuff into suitcases, my joy and relief has been getting to talk with friends and ministry partners before I head off – over lunch, over coffee, for dinner in their homes with their families, and at farewell get-togethers. From these conversations, times of prayer together, and shared meals (of communion?), my heart has been greatly warmed during the cold winter weeks and periods of chilled inner anxiety.
I am fascinated by new families starting, old families transitioning and reshaping as kids graduate or parents change jobs. I love seeing how friends continue to gather for meals, for celebrations, and for excursions to explore the world around us. It fascinates me to meet people who are living “missionally” here in Idaho by living and working in some of the more neglected and underserved parts of our society. I love seeing how my grandparents and their friends continue to engage with each other, serve tirelessly those around them, and provide generously and hospitably to others. It is an encouragement to me, and a holy conviction as well, to continue seeking God’s direction in life and ministry in bold and creative ways in the company of others seeking his kingdom realized here on earth as it is in heaven.
I walked to and from the university with my dad for the last time today, over icy sidewalks and yards blanketed in snow. Even the sub-freezing weather and grey-sky days feel beautiful and magical as I prepare to head down to warmer weather and sunshine. Walks with my dad to and from the university every morning, as well as some refreshing jogs on the greenbelt this past summer and fall, have kept me connected with the changing of seasons and beautiful transitions in nature, painted on the vibrant living canvas of trees, neighborhoods, canals, and the sky. It is this variation in feel and the holiday celebrations that accompany each season that I know I will miss, in exchange for a different climate and yearly calendar of the tropics.