"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Sunday, July 18, 2004 We're back in St. Louis. Got in yesterday afternoon -- Schroedter and Ian were there to meet us at the airport, and then we went home to join Hayden and Kathy and Samantha.
It is good to be home ... and mostly good to see the boys after six weeks. Hayden is taller and MUCH more talkative than he was when I left. Schroedter is Schroedter, still one of a kind!
Being back has been an adjustment in some ways and not in others. It's amazing how quickly and thoughtlessly I shift back into patterns of Western living. At Heathrow, I went into the bathroom and, without thinking twice, brushed my teeth using water from a faucet for the first time in six weeks ... and only about 20 minutes later thought about what I had just done.
It wasn't until I got to O'Hare that I was really hit by how white everyone was and how the economic mean was so much higher. Also, watching CNN Headline News at the airport in Chicago, I got hit by all the shooting and crime stories ... which you get almost none of in West Africa.
There's a lot that I will just need to sit with and let myself rest with how uncomfortable it makes me ... like all the STUFF in my house ... like how many people (even in my own country) don't have the health care I take for granted ... like how I open my refrigerator and have such choices over what to eat ... like how we throw away things that people living in Mallam would treasure.
But I have to live in this country and I do love this country. The question is really the one of my whole sabbatical ... how do we connect the realities of global living to the average person and faith community in a way that is accessible and that can foster real change? How can you tell the stories without sounding like a wild-eyed radical lunatic? Especially when the stories challenge the way we live at such fundamental levels.
So the experience of living in Ghana is over for now ... but really this is all just beginning. Not so much because of what I have seen. I've seen lots of things on television before and even heard lots of people talk before. No, it's because of the relationships I have forged. I could choose to take people like Emmanuel and Auntie Ya (who taught me Twi every day from her chair in front of her shop in Mallam) and the people of All Souls and treat them like experiences I have had. And no matter how much they mean to me, that is a temptation ... to treat them as part of the "Ghana experience" that would go alongside other vacations I have had. I have that choice, and I could make it.
But that would really miss the point of the whole thing ... and so I really hope I don't make that choice. Because the relationships forged during my time in Ghana are wonderful and they are with people I really care about and who have changed me. And as much as I don't know what it means to live in this world with the knowledge of and relationships with the people I have met. And as much as it's really challenging to think about the change that might call me to in my life. As much as those things are true, I know that I'm not supposed to be the same after this trip ... and I really don't want to be the same. I guess that's why what's most uncomfortable about being back isn't the ways I am uncomfortable being back here but the many ways I am completely comfortable slipping back into all my old patterns. The task is to figure out which patterns are good and which need further examination and change.
In the meantime, there's plenty to do. Two kids to spend lots of time with, a house to take care of and a great community of students to get back to. And also photos to post of the last 2 weeks of the trip ... which I promise I will do soon. And lots of thinking to do. And lots of praying to do.
I remember the glazed look in Sarah Stanage's eyes when she got off the plane from the Sudan ... and it wasn't just from the jet lag. I've thought about that a lot the past two days. I wonder what it's like for Sarah now?
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."