Dear anonymous friend, ;)
Thanks for sending these reflections on [your trip to the Gulf Coast to help hurricane survivors] – it’s always cool to hear how folks are encountering Christ and how it effects them.
I remember coming back from Kenya and all the stories I told and I all the experiences I had and how I KNEW that I would never, COULD NEVER, be the same. The poverty, the indifference to life, the endemic corruption – it was shocking and terrifying and so very sad. And yet, less than six months later I looked at myself and felt that in fact nothing had changed at all. I was in my same old grooves, my same old habits and I had stopped talking about Kenya because so many folks seemed like they simply weren’t interested in anything but my photos of elephants. I was sad for that. Like I had missed an opportunity to learn an important lesson (to say nothing for the people who yawned at another Kenya story).
But later still, on further reflection, I saw that Kenya had changed me but it wasn’t so obvious. There was a new plank added to my personality and when it was brand new it seemed dramatic and fresh and stood out like a sore thumb. But inevitably, life continued and that plank was slowly integrated into a structure with all the others. In time it no longer stood out, but rather it supported. It was a starting place – not an ending place.
So in the end I’ve come to see that despite all the things I’ve seen around the world, all the good experiences and all the traumatic ones, I’m called to bloom where I’m planted. That experience, like many others in Hong Kong, Panama, Mississippi, Nagasaki – they change me, but they don’t define me.
As this powerful memory dims in your mind like a setting sun, I hope you won’t begrudge the normal work of time. Instead, relish the fact that God has laid a new slab in the deep foundations of your life – and look expectantly toward what he will build atop it.
Grace and Peace – Chris