ducks, compared to me, are much more organized
they pattern themselves
submitting for miles to wing-beats in front
faces watch tail feathers and eyes never meet
friendship forgotten in the circle of sky, the same of wings, the
above scrawny oaks and the grope of mistletoe, I hear duck voices
no, I do not know what it means
do they hate or love the regimen?
I see only this: they get where they mean to go.
The past few weeks have held departures and arrivals, goodbyes and hellos, painful emotions and joyful ones…all of it culminating here. Here, where I sit at my dining room table surrounded by a vase of gorgeous flowers and a handful of scattered thoughts and a jar of delicious Nutella (not pictured). There are far worse Monday evenings out there, for sure.
Confession: before returning home (the American one) for the holiday season, it crossed my mind that maybe I wouldn’t want to leave again. Suddenly, I was a little nervous that January 6th would arrive and I would be clinging desperately to Texas. And so I felt very blessed (and very relieved) when none of those feelings materialized. As bittersweet as it is to leave that home, returning to this home has been full and good and ultimately peaceful.
I’ve returned to a new rhythm of life for the next several months. At Kasana, New Hope runs the Institute of Childcare and Family, a five-month course designed to equip and disciple those working with in ministry with orphaned children. Since I so often feel inadequate in walking with the kids I have relationship here, I’m very much looking forward to the learning and growth that will go along with this time. In the interest of Full Missionary Disclosure, however, this is not a perfect and rose-colored path that I walk. So often, my heart still struggles. There are distractions, heart problems, and deeply rooted lies that still pull me down. (I wish people in ministry were somehow exempt from that.)
On Saturday, as I waited for a particularly hard week to end, a dear friend and neighbor showed up at my door. We spent the late morning talking and listening, crying and praying (okay, the crying was me and the praying was her). Later, an iced coffee and a note was also brought to my door, with Psalm 84:5 attached:
“Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.”
There is profound solace in those words. I love that the Jesus I cling to showers blessings upon those who are weak; I love that He fills us with His strength when we are most needy; I love that our hearts must be set on pilgrimage. Pilgrimage—“a journey to a holy place.” My heart is on a desperate and beautiful pilgrimage. And again and again, I am reminded that the journey is still incomplete.
In the meantime, I find myself dwelling in a multitude of contradictions. Weakness and strength; doubt and faith; pain and joy. But my heart is set on pilgrimage. And I choose to trust the One who walks with me.
It was not a year of quantity regarding books. But some of these stand out to me like boulders that made my path clear. As always, this is not a list of book endorsements. I do not necessarily recommend all of the following.
The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling*
Magic by G.K. Chesterton
Defiant Joy (The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton) by Kevin Belmonte
The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak (a boulder-book; a thing of beauty)
Tales from Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Song of Roland translated by Leonard Bacon
Master of the World by Jules Verne
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley*
What’s Wrong With the World by G.K. Chesterton
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The Poets Laureate Anthology compiled by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt (a boulder-book; a collection of fire and ash)
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (almost a boulder; this small story spoke to me of humanity and communication)
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
Star Trek: Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
King Lear by Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A Window in Thrums by J.M. Barrie
Mathematics in Western Culture by Morris Kline
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
A Continuous Harmony by Wendell Berry (a boulder-book; this was my first time reading Wendell Berry and it tied together some important loose ends of my life)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling*
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
The Catbird’s Song by Richard Wilbur
Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff
A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
Songmaster by Orson Scott Card
Christianity for Modern Pagans (Pascal’s Pensees) by Peter Kreeft (a boulder-book; a work of apologetics infused with love and honesty)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
Station Island by Seamus Heaney
*denotes previously read
There are many board game designers and companies in Austin. Big ones like Steve Jackson Games (of Munchkin Fame) and Fireside Games (of Castle and Dead Panic Fame) and small ones like Albino Dragon and unpublished designers like me. Because of this I started the Austin Board Game Designers and Play Testers Facebook and Meetup Groups. If you live in Austin you should join both.