It is that time again. Where my life is getting ready to shift, and everything boils down to a countdown. My life in constant motion. It is hard to describe, this feeling of leaving, starting over (again) and saying goodbye. It is never easy. No matter how many times I do this, I never seem to learn the trick.
Actually, I never learn any of the tricks. Not just how to make the goodbyes easier, but you would think after more than a decade on the move, I would have gotten better at this packing thing. Or at least learned that it is always better to start early! I’ll admit, my mom packed me up for Hong Kong. And she did a darn good job. 15 months in two suitcases. Impressive. I asked if she’d fly over to help pack me for home. She just laughed. What’s so funny? Because now, I have 15 months, plus 7 countries worth of stuff. Stuff. Goodies for Christmas, treasures and mementos and such. But still, stuff. Sigh. How do I do this every time? Accumulate way more than I meant to?
Kris will be here in 19 days. Not that I’m counting or anything. But seriously – if any one out there is thinking of doing the long distance thing without seeing each other for 15 months, don’t. We made it. But sometimes only barely. And it was not fun. I’m beyond blessed to have an incredibly supportive and patient man. But dude, so would not do that again. I can’t wait to see him, and show him my life in Hong Kong.
In 24 days, I’ll be heading to the Hong Kong airport for the last time. (Why, oh why did I have to book a 7:30am flight?! Seriously, you’d like to think I had learned something in all my years of travel!) I can’t believe it is almost over. While I am beyond ready to get home, to eat my weight in Mexican food, to spend Christmas with my family, to see my dog (Hank! I’m coming!), to drive a car, walk on my favorite beach, see my friends, give hugs to all the church ladies who have been sending me cards and prayers….While I am ready for all of that, I’m not ready for what I’ll have to leave behind to get those things.
The thought of leaving behind the work here, my co-workers, the women in the shelter, my church. Heartbreaking. I just cannot say it enough, but I absolutely love my job. I adore my co-workers. They never cease to keep me laughing. And they are great encouragers and teachers. Dedicated to their work, to the movement, to justice. I am honored to have spent the last 15 months working along side of them. When I am old, this will be one of those experiences I look back on in awe, and that will mostly be because of the people I worked with. And the women. Oh, the Bethune House women. Though they are a migrant bunch, though the faces have changed over my time here, they all have something in common. Hope. Determination. Compassion. And there are a few who have been in the shelter my entire time. They were here before I arrived, and sadly, they will be here long after I leave. Their cases are dragging on, and though their hope wavers from time to time, it never falters. What an inspiration they have been.
As much as I talk about work, I realize that I have not mentioned my church much. Which is a shame. Because my church is just as amazing as my work environment. It is the kind of church that I have searched my whole life for. I cannot imagine finding another one like it. A small, international, ecumenical community, devoted to learning, justice and worship. People who can talk about theology with the same intensity as they use to talk about environmental issues, or issues of justice and peace. Set out of the city, up on a mountain, Sundays are a literal breath of fresh air. Hiking up to services in the cool (or heat) of the afternoon, anticipating a time of quiet and reflection. The services full of candles, prayers, song. The dinners afterward with homemade desserts, delightful company and much laughter. The prayer walk, the unique Chinese architecture of the church, the local art, the union of tradition and nature.
I just cannot believe in 24 days, I will be saying goodbye to the life I have here.