What’s it like? Hmmm, you feel like an immigrant or foreigner in your own land. Somehow so many things are new and somewhat confusing.
Warning if you continue to read…this post is authentically real and raw. Just saying.
When I first arrived in the Lima airport on the way back, I was completely disorientated. It was busy, loud, and there were massive amounts of people. I had been there so many times before, but somehow I felt completely turned around. I felt lost!
So there I stood with all my luggage, more than I originally planned because I packed in less than 30 minutes. I just throw everything into two bags. Maybe I wasn’t ready to come home, maybe I spent too much time on my last walk to the bridge. I don’t know how it happened. But my luggage was a mess! I think my luggage was a direct reflection of my heart, as it too was sort of a mess. And I was at peace with all that mess.
So with too much luggage in tow, I stopped and stood there for several minutes in the middle once again. This time in an air port. People where whizzing by and calling out to one another. So many people with signs looking for arrivals.
I said to myself, “take a deep breath and get a grip, what do you need to do?” After several minutes I suddenly remembered I needed to exit the airport and re-enter. A metaphor for the rest of life at home. Life at home is not the same, because I’m no longer the same. There is in fact, a time of exiting and re-entering.
One thing is for certain, I should not travel alone. I am a total danger to myself. I pay no attention to the time, the gates, or baggage claim numbers and this was my first time out of the country alone. But I’m unlike most travelers, I’m going at a pace they do not know. It’s called slow. Yes, I almost missed two of my three flights for not paying attention! Out of Piura I was day dreaming and running to the plane as they were pulling away the stairs. Then in Lima I was running late because I was in the gift shop using up the last of my Peruvian currency. I couldn’t decide what bag of coffee to purchase. Too many choices! I’m somewhat surprised I made it back to the states.
When I finally arrived in the states at the Miami airport it was early in the morning. I stopped to buy myself a cup of coffee at the Starbucks. All of a sudden, I hear “ma’am, ma’am?” It’s almost like I’m in a trance of sorts. This is the first time anyone in over two months is behind a counter, at a cash register, or serving me, and requesting a response in English. Pay attention Lisa, I tell myself. This continues to be a reoccurring theme in re-entry for me.
Or course driving home from the airport everything looks so green and lush. This is what I noticed my very first trip eleven years ago. But this time it’s something new and so much deeper I see. I notice all the space there is in-between all the houses. The yards are too big I say to myself. I begin to see something new regarding community, relationships and ultimately the impact this all has on intimacy.
So I tell myself “attempt a gentle re-entry”. I’m blessed that I can do that, as I have a full week off work before I go back. I am intentionally not filling up my schedule, although everyone in their mother, brother and fourth cousin wants to hear about my trip. It somewhat surprises me how curious people are about my trip. I wonder if it’s me they want to see? Or are they too searching for the genuine intimacy and union I seek. Maybe both. I do not know.
It seems like the simplest things can overwhelm my brain. Mostly, because we just have too many choices here in the west. Why is the Walmart so big I wonder my first time out. What do I want to eat? Why in the world do I have more than one brand of shampoo in my shower! So much work do to I tell myself, take it slow.
Then there’s me standing barefoot and naked after a shower staring at a pile of clothes for several minutes. Once again, I feel lost. Totally disorientated and I can’t figure out why. Then it hits me – too many choices. I remember I’ve been wearing the same jeans and t-shirts for two months. Less is more I tell myself, both externally and internally. Still so much work to do, take it slow. Oh, and I have no idea what the weather is like here now. It’s so predictable in Peru. I really like the weather there I’ve decided. Somehow this humidity is brining my hot flashes back, and I don’t like that.
Re-entry is very strange as in some ways you feel like an immigrant at home. It’s like learning things for the first time. For example this happened my second time driving a car, I hear “ma’ma do you know why I pulled you over?” “Not really officer I’ve been out of the country for two months and haven’t driven much.” “Wow” he says, “Well then you probably didn’t see me, but you rolled that stop sign back there.” Yea, nope – I didn’t see you. I’m thinking I didn’t see you because I wasn’t paying attention. I’m grateful for the warning he gave me. Pay attention, Lisa I tell myself once again.
It sure was nice not driving in Piura, I love not being in control I remember. And no one pays attention to stop signs in Peru!
In Piura, I went to mass daily, sometimes twice a day. Morning and evening. Now, I’ve only been to mass twice since I been home and it’s like being on another planet! For all you liturgical geeks. Ya, I know it’s the same, but let me say it’s not the same. Nowhere near the same. It’s truly not, it’s so different and that is going to take some adjusting to. So I cling to the Eucharist, the bread of life – the one person I know who doesn’t change. Oh, and I’m missing sitting next to my sweet friend Luis. I imagine he too misses me. Funny how he thinks I’m from New York and not north of Chicago!
I do love the silence here at home though. It’s there I find peace, serenity, and my own thoughts. It astounds me the beauty of it. It’s even more beautiful then I remember. It also astounds me that along the way I learned to hear God among all the noise of barking dogs, taxi horns, and the papaya man. So maybe, yes God’s voice is truly in the voice of the papaya man. Because now, I’m convinced it is.
And so in the silence and the softness of my bed sheets, that’s the one thing I truly missed other than the silence. I’m spending a lot of time unpacking; my heart, my emotions, my thoughts, and all the moments during my time in Piura. I literally have hundreds of stories and thousands of moments that forever changed me. I couldn’t possibly share them all.
How will I ever be able to explain the profound intimacy I experienced with the people of Piura and God I wonder? I come to know I can’t, as there are no words. That is ok.
“If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me.” – Deuteronomy 4:39
So daily this is my new manta. Take it slow. Easy does it. Go at your own pace. God knows. And more than anything He is with you. This is a journey of the heart and it requires you to slow down and pay attention.
And so re-entry is both a exiting and a re-entering that requires a one to pay attention. For transformation has just begun. It’s all a part of God’s bigger plan for my life. So the question becomes how do I weave it all into the here and now? I do not know. And more and more I’m finding myself saying “I do not know”. There is freedom in “not knowing” and I’m ok with that because I’m trusting in God and not myself.
If you missioned or had a profound encounter with God. Don’t stop, continue the journey. It’s only the beginning. God wants to use the transformation that has just begun and offer the “changed you” to the world in which you live now.
Take the time reflecting on your experiences and listen to what God says to your heart. They say that the longest journey is from the head to the heart. I’m convinced there is a much longer journey. The journey of the heart in where you grow in deep intimacy and friendship with God and the knowing you are His beloved child.
If you have taken a mission trip, I highly recommend this little book called “un-earth, Exploring A Land With No Name” by Christy Vidrine and Autumn Rogers. It’s a small little reflection book that helps you unpack the experience and un-earth all that happened so that you can find your way going forward because life has changed. You now have a new map.