For many years my family and I lived in China. Even though I had the basics of the Chinese language, there were so many things to learn each day, not only about the language but also the customs and culture of the Peoples around me. We were fortunate to live in an area where there were several ethnic groups. This made for lots of diverse and rich experiences.
Everyday when I would step out of my apartment building I would be greeted by different people in different ways. In Chinese language school we had learned that “Ni hao” was the traditional greeting. The only thing was that it was usually I who would say that, but the locals would say something different, such as “Have you eaten enough?” or “Going to the market are you?” or “Where are you going?” or “Where are you coming from?” It took me awhile to figure it out but, I think stating the obvious or asking an obvious question was the greeting. One year we came back from America after the birth of our little baby girl. Each day when I stepped out I would hear over and over again: “Oh, your baby isn’t wearing enough clothes!” So the next day I would try to bundle her up a bit more. It didn’t seem to matter because I would hear the same thing every day, especially from the Grannies. It wasn’t until a particularly warm, sunny, early spring day that it dawned on me. I was sure I had her bundled up enough and I knew a little sunshine would be good for her, so I wasn’t prepared for the usual: “Your baby isn’t wearing enough clothes!” In fact I kind of lost it! “What do you mean she isn’t wearing enough clothes??? Look how sunny and warm it is, and I have her all bundled up anyways!” When I saw the confused stare on this particular Granny’s face, then I realized she was just saying “good morning” to me. So after that experience I would calmly remind myself when ever I heard that particular phrase that they were just saying hi!
This was right around the same time that I noticed my 4-year-old son had his own particular greeting. He and his friends were playing out in front of our apartment. The young girl who helped me make lunch called me over to the window and pointed. It was the time of day when the teachers came back to their homes for lunch. Many of them had stacks of hot naan in their arms. My son was putting his hand out and my generous neighbors walking by were pulling off pieces of naan and giving it to him!
I am finding the borderlands here.
The place I came from and call home, where I have never been a foreigner, so my passport tells me.
Even though I am an introvert, I really love this place of getting to know others who are different from myself, once I get past my shyness.
Pressing out beyond the familiar helps me keep growing, learning and loving.
Last month at the Bosnian Mosque on the Day of Remembrance, I could remember with my neighbors and help just a little to carry their burden.
The Arab young men my husband works with have been a delight.
Who would have thought that one of them knew how to make raspberry cheesecake!
Yet, I have known for a long time that this is not my true home.
My heart tells me there is so much more beyond this land I see.
Because daily I am there at the borderlands of heaven and earth,
Every time I pray.
Categories: borderlands, Faith, Life, Love, Uncategorized
Tags: borderlands, growing, home, introvert, learning, loving, passport, pray
The ache in our hearts
Is the call
To come deeper
To the One
Who sees us
And satisfies us
Beyond all measurement.
We don’t always
In our pain
That leaves us
Hollow and unsatisfied
The true source
Of all that we need.
It is a learning
To be turning
Towards that faint sound
Of the rushing river
To be seeking
For that Living Water
Like a deer
A matter of life or death
To find and
To know that
We have been found
And we are known
And brought safely
© 2012 Julie Clark
Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, Poetry
Tags: ache, call, death, desperation, found, home, known, life, pain, seeking, voice