Today is my NT anniversary, and what strikes me first is that one year isn’t enough to hold what the last has. I read a book about time perception a few years ago, and why summer holidays seem to last forever when you’re a kid. Apparently it’s got something to do with creating and storing new memories, and the space they take up in your brain.
2017 was full of new—home, job, church, friends, climate. And while Darwin felt like an adventure before moving here, it still feels like one. I’ve spent a year waiting for the extraordinary to become ordinary, but it hasn’t. Not yet. The pale green of the sea in wet season, the scurry of lizards when you step outside, the sudden rain storms which seem to hit whenever I’m leaving church: there is enough ‘otherness’ in the look and feel of this place to send a thrill up my spine. I still have to pinch myself, sometimes.
And yet, they aren’t why I moved to Darwin. Not for Saturday morning markets, or crocodile boat cruises or even for carefully cultivated and much-loved balcony frogs. The feeling, every week, of possibility and adventure is not essential to life here. But it is an extra special grace, an overabundance to thank God for.
He is why. He is the essential. Darwin remains God’s gift to me, one I was not looking for or expecting. My family at St Peter’s are a gift that keeps giving; brothers and sisters I am so glad to do life with. Home. Despite being true for a year, it’s in coming back to it that I feel it in my bones.
Which is not to say that life is perfect, or that it always looks like sunsets and coffee under palm trees. Most of the time it looks like an office strewn with tinsel and toys, a desk peppered with books I mean to read and demo crafts, a mind full of roster assignments and to dos. It looks like an older friend who spent the summer faithfully recording every visitor to morning church in a notebook, like listening to new kids songs while trying to read a commentary, like visiting Spotlight and Bunnings and the dollar shop every week without fail. And, most precious, it looks like opening the Bible; with sweet, smart, sassy kids who fill my soul fit to burst. Who God is at work amongst. Who it is an extraordinary privilege to love. Sometimes it looks like Scripture on a Monday afternoon, in a room so cold the children wear puffer vests. My forever prayer: whatever it looks like, it is sharing Jesus.
The last year meant surprise trips to a couple of Aboriginal communities, visits from college friends, 40 weeks without seeing my dogs, and eating ice-cream every day for months ‘because it is summer’. Lessons I have learned: it is always summer. The last year meant I missed my family, and the ease of the familiar. Watching my niece and nephews grow up. The last year meant I learned more about my sinfulness: selfishness, self-righteousness and pride. The last year meant God’s faithfulness, in all the little things as well as overall. Over all.
When it comes down to it, time is precious and feelings may be fleeting, but Jesus will always be worth proclaiming. I thank God he has me do it here, and pray for the grace that only he supplies. Thanks for those of you who have been praying too. I still don’t own an umbrella, but here’s to the next monsoon… xo