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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In the small and the big

Tonight, I whispered a small prayer to God as I sat at the cafeteria table by myself and tried to look like I didn't mind. Please God, send me a friend. My plate was filled with delicious foods of my childhood, the room was filled with the mixed hubbub of Arabic, French and English among friends, but I sat silently and wondered if every meal would be like that. One day down, 364 to go. 800 meals to be precise. Not that anyone was counting. . .

After returning to my room, I tidied up to a classical playlist on YouTube, then paced the floor like a restless lion, reading from my Arabic primer while trying to ignore the colics from a stomach upset at having been served beans twice in a row. Then a Facebook message popped up. How was your first day at work? It was someone I'd met briefly that day, we'd connected virtually prior to my arrival, and I appreciated her thoughtfulness to ask. After a brief exchange, she asked if I wanted mint tea. Sure! I replied.

Two hours later, after sharing pieces of our lives, finding the common and exclaiming at the unusual, as I said goodnight and returned to my room, I smiled inside. The prayer I had sent up so timidly had been answered so quickly. What a wonderful gift from my Father!

Today has been a good day. I taught my first class period and both the students and teacher survived. I let them out 4 minutes early and did worship in the middle of class instead of at the beginning because I forgot, but that's okay. I had a work meeting with one of my bosses while the other one took me around to meet old friends. The ladies hugged me and held my hands while exclaiming over how long it had been. I took my cue from the men and most of them shook hands though one or two also hugged me. I felt myself going into my gentle mode where I smiled a lot and nodded and said little.

I got reimbursed for something, used the cash to buy water (they use dual currency here, Lebanese and USD), and lugged a 10-liter bottle up 3 flights of stairs. I am choosing to be grateful that I live on the 3rd floor so I can get in mandatory exercise several times a day. I set up appointments to buy basic items and get my phone and bank accounts activated. I walked around the campus and revisited favourite haunts. I tidied up my belongings and made a list of things to buy.

And then, when I wasn't busy getting settled, I thought. I'm happy to be here but I am realizing that only a small part of it can be based on my historical merit. It is now up to me going forward to create my own legacy. My future is a blank slate. I can get my ears pierced and listen to hard rock or I can wear hippy skirts and go gluten-free. I can be a social butterfly or a recluse. I can love the local food or refuse to eat anything fresh. I can share Jesus in class or push Him out of my life. It is up to me. A scary thing, this free will.

I saw our old house, the trees I used to climb, the basketball court where I learned to play. Some things have changed while others remain constant. Strangely enough, there is no emotion. Coming in to land, yesterday, I got a little teary-eyed as I saw the harbour I'd watched so many years before. But now, it's as if I've finally realized that my past is in my past. I can let it go and I won't break into little tiny pieces. I will admit, my mind is already thinking about 364 days from now. While I cannot foresee how my life will change, as I know it will, I am ready now to go where those who love me are. This is me. I live for companionship and what I had here before no longer exists.

I realized today that it is not the place that calls unrelenting to the TCK's heart. It is the invisible cord that connects dear ones to us. This is not easily broken; it simply stretches thin with time and space. What do we do when they relinquish the cord? We hurt for a bit but then we realize that the empty place where their cord once connected their heart to ours is now filled with other cords equally as precious. I have many of those invisible cords attached to my heart and for that I am grateful.

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