During our week in Colorado Springs at MTI’s Debriefing & Renewal program, we were encouraged to use the metaphor of a bridge as we faced reentry into our home culture. On one end of this theoretical and yet all-too-real bridge is Ancona, our life in Italy, which we’ll label as ‘settled’. On the other end, off in a nebulous haze is a life in New Braunfels, Texas which we will one day also label ‘settled.’ In between is the actual bridge which has signs along the way marking the phases called ‘unsettled’, ‘chaos’, and ‘resettling’.
So I’m out today in our back yard holding something I’ve never used before or maybe once in Junior High: a weed eater. Just three weeks ago I was hanging with our small group as they talked about the intricacies of lawn care and I was too embarrassed or prideful to say anything, I just soaked it in, hoping their experience would rub off on me somehow by means of some miraculous form of osmosis. So back to today, fumbling with a 50’ extension cord, breaking the trigger guard (sorry Tom), damaging trees, cutting off one of Heather’s flowers and pausing to watch a Youtube video on how to restring the thing because I kept making mistakes. I feel like a fool, a prideful fool who should be able to do this simple task which every red-blooded suburbanite does a couple of times a month.
When you’re learning the cultural ins and outs of a foreign place I think you give yourself more grace because it is, well, foreign. But when you’re ‘home’ or what you keep telling yourself should be ‘home’ or at least looks like ‘home’, it’s all too easy to be short with yourself because you should already know how to do this.
In many ways, I feel like I’m learning a new language, new words, new expressions, new ways of doing things. I’m learning new rhythms, new meal times, new traditions, new holiday schedules, new songs. I still need to learn to let go of my pride and call up my neighbor, my family, my small group and ask for help, even if the question may surprise them in its simplicity.
Some still look at us a bit quizzically when they ask what we’ve been doing this month of April and I answer, “Settling in.” I try to make excuses and come up with things to make it sound like I’ve been doing something productive when in the end, what I’m doing with most of my time, is simply that, settling in. I can’t tell you how blessed we feel that nearly all of our supporting churches and individuals have continued supporting us through June to help us ease back in and set up a home.
In an hour we’re having a party for Jacob who became a teenager today. His big present was a Dad-made soccer goal which he found in the backyard this morning with a big red bow on it, sitting on a freshly mown lawn. The yard looks pretty good. All along the edges rests the cut, green evidence that I’m learning how to handle a weed eater; evidence that I’m taking another step across the bridge.