Raindrops and Napkins

We are six weeks newly planted into Lebanon.  We have survived the 90+ F degree days, that left one thinking what was the coolest garment one can possibly wear?  The last two weeks have brought a noticeable relief of temperature drop where at night there is a hint of coolness and in the day, one could consider wearing blue jeans.  There has not been one drop of rain since our arrival, which is normal for this season.  However, I just went outside to visit a new friend and a few scattered drops fell.  Not enough to make us run inside, but those few drops were refreshing and a hint of more to come.

The refreshing raindrops remind me of something I have wanted to share with you since this summer.  I had four different outings with dear friends (my parents included) where significant things were shared with me.  Not coming prepared to write and not wanting to pull out the barrier of my phone, I grabbed a napkin and a pen and wrote down some of these precious thoughts.  I have carried the napkins here.  They lay on my British tablecloth, covering our temporary plastic table, rumpled from being shoved into my purse and then journeying to Lebanon in a random suitcase.  Yet the messages are still beckoning to be written down and etched into my memory.  Many of these words have carried me through this season of transition.

 

Tucked into a small table at a little Four Corner Café in a little town in Tennessee I jotted down these words of wisdom on two different napkins, from meeting with this dear mentor twice.  This sweet lady was our wedding coordinator over 23 years ago.  She could be my Mom, but indeed she is my friend.

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There is not enough of you to keep up with ALL the old friendships and the new ones to be made.  The more you keep your foot there (where you were), the harder it will be to embrace the future.

Recognize your move as a grief loss.  You will lose many of your old friends, doctors, familiar stores and hairdressers (this last one doesn’t apply to me, I didn’t have a hairdresser in Papua and I still have my dear one in America). 

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Allowing yourself to grieve is important. When you are in your new place, because you don’t yet have deep relationships with people, there will be no one (in your new community) to reflect to you about your life.  Giving you input.  People that know you really well will reflect back to you and affirm who you are or question you if you don’t seem to be yourself.  (I have really pondered this reflection thought and it resonates deeply with me).   We long as humans (and especially as ladies) for people to reach out and want us and to not have to go through our whole resume (the joy of old friendships).

Our roles are bigger than we realize.  Our husbands could not do what they do without us (specifically speaking of men who are in leadership).

The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty (Pastor Mike Fulbright). 

The setting has shifted.  Now I am in this amazing tea shop downtown Chattanooga with my dear parents.  We skirted no issues as we sipped on our teas and drank in the atmosphere that gave permission to linger long past the empty cups.  The napkin turned into paper when they shared moto’s that they try to live by.  I love their example and the words captured here.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  St Francis of Assisi.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:

-Live by your impeccable word

-We are not to make assumptions

-Don’t take anything personally (my parents testified that this is the hardest one to practice)

-Always do your best

My parents are very inspired by these four simple guidelines.  They truly strive to do these things.

There were more notes made at another tea shop. Do you see a theme here?  These intentional times of friendship have carried me. I think this tea outing was especially meaningful because this friend has walked with me over the past 14 years.  She has specifically prayed for me ever since we left the United States and she has a very special love and passion for the Middle East.  We intend to have tea on my new soil some day soon.

There were more notes this summer. Notes from sermons.  Even notes from a movie.  The notes that I have shared with you have spoken truth to me, as I have waited for the rain of friendships with roots and reflection. I hear the pitter patter of them coming and I can sense the smell in the air.  I am endeared to my old friends who refuse to be lost.  I am so grateful for my new friends that are willing to reach out to me despite their already established circle of friends.

I will close with this note that I jotted down this week that was shared by one of my graduate professors:

The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.  Frederick Buechner

And so, I wait.  Wrapped in a cocoon of time, waiting to emerge.  It is not a time of being set aside but a time of being set apart.  I believe with all my heart that I am in the place where my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger will meet, one day soon.

Wishing you moments of deep connection, with some napkin notes if needed.

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