I wasn’t made for the island.
There’s this scene in Moana where she’s hanging onto the trunk of a palm, and looking out to a sparkling blue ocean.
And there’s just something about the words she sings:
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
She’s a free-spirited wanderer, and so are we, or at least we desire to be even as we are stuck on the island, looking longingly into the distance to the vast unknown.
So, we travel. We book a flight. Leave the hum-drum of a mundane life.
Leaving for China was part of that ache in my heart. I longed for something more, to be away from a self-indulgent comfort and immersed in a place where the impossible is believed possible.
I loved the village, where children played freely with water guns on the streets and noodles cooked in stone cauldrons holding boiling broth.
Everyday was a surprise, and I was on a rollercoaster adventure – hands raised high above the bar, waiting in anticipation for the next twist and turn.
To be honest, that was part of the reason why I didn’t want to return to this side of the world.
I didn’t want to settle into the convenience grocery shopping (I still rebel against that :P), the church that meets only on Sundays, the rut of predictability I feared I would inevitably fall into.
And since making the move, I’ve learnt a couple of things:
One. Adventure is what we create. It isn’t found in a specific location. Sure you may prove something about your fear threshold by braving the rainforests of the Amazon alone, but if that short period of time is the only time you experience adventure and thrill, I think that’s pretty sad.
Two. The secret is in finding joy in the stability and routine. Monks and nuns take a vow of stability, so as to “resist all temptation to escape the truth about ourselves by restless movement from one place to the next.”
Our restlessness with life will only stop when we start with joy over the baking of bread, the making of tea, the reading of books, the brushing of teeth.
for it is not the once-a-year adrenaline rushes that make us who we are, but the everyday rituals, the present: this moment.
Three. I can be an ordinary radical.
I was crunching down snow packed sidewalk last Sunday (yes, it’s that time of the year in Montreal :P) after my weekly meeting with the women’s group at the mosque. The questions they had asked were clamouring for space in my little brain:
How do you know if it’s God speaking to you? How can you be sure? How is God sacrificing Jesus if He “got him back” anyways? How do you explain Prophet Muhammed?
Questions I had yet to form answers for. And yet, the not-knowing was refreshing.
I see it as concentric circles: the most inner one is the things I am sure of, though this circle shrinks the more I feel I know.
But things like – I am currently eating raw beet dipped in hummus, sitting at a window seat facing St Dominique St, that it’s -17 degrees C today or that my hands get cold super easily.
The second circle would be the things I know enough to believe are true: Jesus died and rose to life. The hope of heaven and eternal life.
Then, there’s the circle of what I believe are possibly true to varying degrees: If I put citric acid and rennet into milk, I’ll get mozzarella. (I knew this better only after actually trying it…)
Then, the vast expanse of all things unknown, at the brink of which I can only stare out into with awe and wonder.
I believe we were made to stand at brinks and boundaries, because worship is our natural (and only) response from staring into mystery.
I believe the gospel was made for the brink and boundary, the tension of where God meets human and the all-perfect touches diseased leper.
So, I’m looking for ways to nudge myself to the boundary where the gospel is relevant and I am in worship.
This boundary could be between that which I do and do not know. Or between those who will make me feel good about myself and those who make me uncomfortable.
I’m reading this book called “Why Cities Matter”, and it characterizes cities as centres of power, culture and worship.
They are where the rich and successful find their wealth, but also where the poor and marginalized find hope for upward social mobility. It is where the hopeful go to live their dreams, where the wanderers go before they settle down.
And so with the diversity of people that cities attract, we find a creative friction that emerges.
So, I don’t have to get on a plane to find this boundary where my faith can be tested. But, right here in this city: this is where the sky meets the sea.