Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Say Goodbye" and saying "hello"

We have already been in Toronto for a few days and we are picking up our old habits once again. Tuesday we drove in with both Mom Mols and Hansen, arriving in the late afternoon. We unloaded quickly and easily-the place looked just like home... kind of. The most exciting items for us were the gently used bikes we picked up in the states for our use during the school year, with thanks to Katrina for unwillingly donating her bike to the cause. (Vive la revolution Kat!) Yvana spotted her own "Schwinn Approved" J.C. Penny cruiser at a garage sale and picked it up for a song. It is tricked out with full front and rear fenders, air ride saddle and cargo rack, all in chrome-like finish for a mere 30 U.S.D; a blessing indeed.

A greater blessing yet was both moms bringing Yvana and I here and in many ways setting us up for the year. After many misadventures our pantry is more stocked than it ever has been before, and our refrigerator is overflowing with a bounty of fresh food--even meat! (for those worried about sexual orientation...) IT was wonderful to have them both here and great to see them getting along so very well. They scouted out the T.O. Islands and highly recommended visiting, so be on the lookout for an excursion update...

After a whirlwind few days with the Moms, they sadly departed on Friday morning. We were already working around ICS on Wednesday and Thursday, so we didn't have as much time to spend with them, but evenings were fun and active. Our routines will gain a bit more stability as soon as classes begin again on Monday- I have class with Lambert on Monday and the IDS (with Yvana) on Friday.

(Here is where the blog gets long and ranting, and some may have already heard this or might not want to hear this, so proceed with caution, if at all.)

On the inside track, this has been a tough few days. I'm feeling fragmented, small, and big all at the same time, or maybe Bilbo's analogy gets at it better: Like butter scraped over too much toast. Not even a week ago we were back in central Illinois, listening to country music (I can still hear "If your goin' through hell, keep on movin'...") and watching the soybeans begin their transition of color that marks their final stage of growth to parched orange, gold, and eventually sagging crisp skeletons of their former verdant glory. We were enjoying a labor day breakfast with my summer co-workers, who are more aptly described as my friends and family. We bar-b-qued with many close friends at the Reppmanns in the suburbs of Chicago. Now, we are in Toronto, biking along College and meeting new students whose geography is Hamilton, St. Cathrine's, or Ethiopia and reconnecting with old friends from Hong Kong and the U.K. We want to be invested in each community so deeply that it becomes a perilous exercise in mental discipline to hold our shattered psyches in tact...

The goodbyes were harder this time around. It surprised me, because I assumed it would be habitual by now- we have done the solemn goodbye several times before to many of the same people. This time, it seemed to me within myself a goodbye of resignation. I knew that God willing I would see all these people again. The sorrow of goodbye is still there, but the shock and awe of it is gone. Only the acidic pain remains. However unwillingly, I am becoming more accustomed to seeing life as a series of goodbyes, of separation, and maybe more than that. Am I saying goodbye to the hope that some day we will be rooted in a unified community where we aren't constantly forced to horribly wrench ourselves from the people with whom we are so intimately connected? I suppose this time around I was saying hello to goodbyes, to the fact that the people we care deeply about are inevitably going to be separated from us by distance- geographical, emotional, intellectual... giving up on the hope of unfallen, pain-free fellowship. Jer Junkin's song was ringing in my head, prompting me to "Say Goodbye." I hope that real community doesn't just exist in my head, but I'm pretty sure the kind I ideally want is a phantasm, or at least an eschatological vision.

But Jeremy responds, observing that there is something binding us to you. All the pain wouldn't be there unless the relationship mattered when it was broken. So we look forward to restoration with you all. And I'm going to work on becoming more intentional with greetings, to try to give them the depth and character we normally ascribe to the grief of departures.

Maranatha; become all in all.

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