There’s a running gag in Rosehaven, a gem of an Aussie tv show I iviewed last year. The main character has returned to Tassie after working on ‘the mainland’ for a number of years, and every time someone asks him about it, they interrupt his explanations with a droll ‘Couldn’t hack it?’. Snortingly good. Anyway, I’m not sure when I started viewing my life in sitcom scene changes, but lately answering the ‘how are you settling in’ question sends me into a bit of a flap.
I appreciate the question, hugely. That’s worth noting, right up front. And my answer isn’t ominous – as far as I can tell, things are great! I love this place, the staff team I’m part of and the friendships that are starting to deepen. I’ve taught a few kids church classes and realised with delight that God will give me just as much love for these kids as he did for the last. Sundays are big, bustling, full days that leave me full of mostly joy. And the place I live is quiet and cool and has furniture (what!) – a delight! As far as I can tell, the answer is ‘great’. But how would you know if it wasn’t?
Which is to say, what does not settling in well feel like? I have asked the question a couple of times with the attempt at a casual laugh, but I can see it worries people so I try not to anymore. There is the feeling, possibly made up by my overactive imagination, that any attempt at nuance rings the kind of ‘couldn’t hack it’ warning bells one would expect from people who are used to farewelling a steady stream of short-termers. For the thousandth time, I need to not worry so much about what people think of me. But I am new, and so is all of this, and one does try hard not to be difficult.
So, honesty time. It has taken me rather longer than it should to realise how much I miss my Clovelly family. Longer than it should because I thought that would only happen if stuff was going terribly wrong here. Because it isn’t – quite the opposite – there’s been nowhere for my grief to go. And it’s only welling up at banal memories that makes me realise these things can coexist side by side. Grief at what is finished, alongside joy at new discoveries and promise. Longing for familiar, while wanting to be exactly where you are. I miss the shorthand, of people who have shared 4 Christmases worth of mulled wine and tea-light candles, umpteen Friday afternoons of mini frankfurts, Tuesday night rice tea and Saturday painting parties. And you can’t substitute that stuff. You can’t fast-foward to familiar or skip the moments along the march to comfortable.
So there are some stark contrasts at the moment. Huge happiness and comfort in a new life I am beyond grateful to be living, as well as people I try not to think about because it hurts in my throat.
There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
What else? This week a number of dear friends happened to be in Darwin at the same time. Steve and Lauren (& Johnny) were holidaying, with whom I shared a year of MTS and overlapped at college. Also, a 3 lives ago Smithfield-friend Amanda became my first temporary Darwin housemate. This was a blessing indeed! It meant the week included extra doses of crocodiles, Moore reunion meals, an aviation museum and the entire boxed set of Miranda (such fun!). It also included the coldest day in Darwin in 75 years, one on which I wore JEANS and STOCKINGS and BOOTS, because I could. Never mind that I confidently forbade my longsuffering friends from packing jeans, meaning that both Amanda and Lauren had to go shopping for warm clothes once they arrived… Seriously though, what are the odds?
Casting further back, there was a Sydney trip in early March for graduation, year group fun times and a couple of snatched days with family and dingoes. I spent so much time anticipating all the jobs I had to do before I left, that I found myself at graduation saying “Ooooh I’m having a really lovely time”, as though there was ever any doubt what being reunited with oodles of my closest friends would feel like.
In the next month I’m looking forward to attending my first Katherine Christian Convention (KCC!), and then returning to Sydney for House Conference, looking at the topic of intergenerational ministry. It feels a little like life in Darwin means gearing up for things and then recovering from them, so my prayer is that I don’t ‘lurch’ from one thing to the next, but find a rhythm amongst all the flux.
And then there is today, and a stillness in the waiting time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I’ve been re-reading ‘Raised Forever’ by Rory Shiner, and re-living the ‘Engage’ sermons the book sprung from. (Oh, and crafting for a kids spot – see below…) Their gift to me has been a beautiful clarity on what Jesus’ resurrection means for the everyday Christian and their everyday life. Jesus as the firstfruits of a harvest He has made possible. I am so grateful for a resurrection hope, anchored in the resurrection of the new Adam. I’m so thankful to be ‘in Him’, so that His rising means that I will too, one day. It isn’t about me, this Easter or this life, but Jesus, who it is about, gives great hope for even me.
Amongst the staggering blessing of life here in Darwin, and the adjustment, and the missing, and the looking forward, and the building a new family, I hope in Him, who has been raised from the dead. He makes it all very simple, quietens the most persistent noise. He remains a thrill of hope for a weary world and this waiting girl. I trust your Easter is a blessed one, and that you too can know this glorious hope. Tomorrow I’ll be singing one of Colin’s new offerings, which sums it all up rather nicely:
“Death is defeated, salvation is completed, the best thing about Easter – Jesus is alive!”