and a car ride; and a short plane ride; and a nap in munich; and ten hours of waiting, reading, the minutes passing so slowly, the ladies nearby viewing continuously the progress of the flight, there always as i look up, leaving no chance to lose track of the time; and a great distance traveled.
our last view of land, between breaking blankets of clouds, was the coast of scotland. i could just make out the winding fingers and cracks of the coastline where the hills met the sea, dozens of small towns luminous against the growing night, like glowing orange paint splattered across an uneven ground.
the sunset lasted almost the entire flight, a burning glow of orange and a sharp red just beyond the edge of the wing from my view. it dwindled finally as the great mass of canada passed below; the moon and a single star had made their appearance in the weak light of the rest of the sky long before. at one point, the moon and sun hidden from view, the rest of our starry host gathered together in silent conglomerations, as if they were afraid to come out before, apparently cowering from the moon and his overpowering superiority. and across the hand of michigan, growing close to our destination, down below were the massed imitations of the cities, as if man had hoped to make a better reflection of the night sky here on earth, all done up in orange and yellow, instead of the colorless mix of the stars’ light. oh if we only turned them off sometimes to see the unknown as the ancients saw, no hindering brilliance of our own doing to block out the great mystery of space! and there was orion, hovering just above the dark sea of cloud, standing guard in his tilted, off-balance pose, like a sentinel set to watch over us as we flew, like an old friend, strong and trustworthy.
and an arrival.
i am spending the week in illinois with my girlfriend stephanie and her family, going down to urbana to talk with my friend josh and others about the things we want to start at the campus there. stephanie and i took thrusday and friday to drive seven hours into the heart of ohio and visit an old music teacher/mentor/best friend for life who is usually down in columbia doing all sorts of amazing Jesus things. she is this time accompanied by her columbian husband who was just recently allowed into the united states. and so we talked. i kid you not we talked. we talked for hours thursday evening and for hours on friday. and i think i needed this. to share ministry experiences, to share about different cultures, to discuss Jesus’ hope for us and this broken world, to hear about america through the eyes of a newcomer, to somehow connect with people in a similar boat, to share community with people who have embraced the changing love of Christ, to make instant friends. it is still somehow all a blur to me, every discussion and frustration and thought that passed between the four of us and how the hours disappeared. but i am glad of it. again, i think it was very good for me. because i still don’t really know how or what to feel now that i am back in the usa after three amazing months in rome and all that transpired there. it is strange for one, though, dreamlike and bizarre. it doesn’t feel real. and i would be lying if i said i didn’t miss it back there; the people, the friends, the work i was doing. it has hit me hard sometimes in the last few days, sending the fire of tears behind my eyes as i try to think and process and wonder, what just happened?
just before our last meal together we jammed musically. the columbian man, leo, plays the guitar like he’s got nothing better to do; jazz, blues, anything, everything, beautiful all. we spent an hour at least making wonderful musics, playing any songs we could think of and all play together. mainly the highlight for me was hearing leo shred it up and melting everyone’s faces.but sharing that time together with people i had just met and who were already people i wouldn’t mind having in my life for many many years to come.
but here i am in america again, far away from people i spent months with, building friendships. and the unforgiving time, the unfeeling plane takes me away from it all. thank goodness that i have a bunch of emails for a bunch of refugees and that the internet is a thing that exists and makes cross-continental communication simple and easy.
in all of this i keep coming back to a song from a band that likes to mix on their albums bizarre humor and amazing songs about Jesus: five iron frenzy.
He gives us hope and peace. and the list goes on……
i go from here to washington for a couple weeks and then fly back to illinois to live, to start a prayer room at the u of i and surrounding ministry to college kids. the shift will be interesting, from homeless refugees to spoiled college kids, but we see Jesus all over our desire for this and might as well try it out. your prayers would be appreciated in this endeavor. and the strange process will probably be posted here so please keep reading if that is one of those things you care to do.