Sunday, 27 March 2011

Familiar Faces

Tonight I am in a heaven of my own. I’ve settled in with my personal homemade barbeque chicken pizza (no Jets- but it’ll do!), a bottle of wine, some good tunes and my journal- ready and prepared for a night of writing. Once I finish this, I fully intend to end my night with a hot bath, a bowl of ice cream and a fresh pedicure. I hope you aren’t mistaking this 22 year old in London on a Saturday night, for an old maid… however- if the shoe fits, call me what you will!

I’ve been thinking about people, loved ones and community quite a bit lately. Every morning here, I walk down to my favorite coffee shop and spend an hour or so reading, writing, or simply just being. I often am swept away in the gradual process of watching this city waken. Slowly but surely, citizens begin to creep out of their homes and crowd the streets. Horns blow, bicycles cruise, women strut, men stomp, children hustle- all the while, I sit. I sit through it all and I love it. I love watching the world move around me- it’s as if I’m a ‘drop in the ocean’, looking on at all the creatures swarming around me. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own life and my own world. But looking out the window of Café Nero every morning is a reminder that with me or without me, the world spins madly on. It’s not all about my wants and needs- it’s so much bigger than anything I could imagine… than any of us can imagine.

I know I have shared many of the happy times I’ve had in London thus far- and don’t get me wrong, it has indeed been amazing! However, I must admit that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies across the ocean. As you can imagine, there have definitely been times of weakness and loneliness in such a large city by myself. Although I have fallen in love with my alone time with God, I still find it difficult to be without friends and family who are tangibly with me. Thanks to technology (Sir Skype, Madame Facebook, Mr. Email and Mrs BBM) I have been able to keep in contact with many people from home- but it’s not the same as having someone with me- someone beside me to experience adventures, share emotions, and make memories with.

I was blessed this past week to share in time with some familiar faces of friends around the globe. On Thursday evening, I was able to go to a concert with my friend Ruth, (who I mentioned before is moving to Mozambique). Together, we ventured to the HMV Forum to see Tim Hughes and various other artists perform a live recording of their new album. This was an unexpected, but amazing night we were able to spend together before she leaves.

The night following my outing with Ruth (I feel like an old lady when I say ‘outing’.. as if it’s the first I’ve had in ages!) I was again blessed to spend time with some other friendly faces. This time, it was dinner and drinks with a couple from Holland- Carolyn and Dan. These two love birds recently followed God's heart for them in Switzerland, where they are working with YWAM. I can’t describe how good it felt to be amongst others that have come from where I have and understand what it’s like to live abroad. It was so freeing to have a night where I didn’t have to dance around particular conversations of positions or beliefs, a night where I felt like I could truly be myself and just share in friendship. It has been over a month now since I’ve felt that kind of comfort, and I am so thankful for it! Both Carolyn and Dan shine with such a light that is contagious- it is uplifting and encouraging. They are a beautiful couple and I’m blessed to know them-- even more blessed to spend another evening with them tomorrow night!

Since I am on the topic of friends, new and old- I ought to share a bit about my new friendships as well! Some of you have heard about my dear friend, Barbara, already. For those of you who have not—allow me to give you a glimpse of who this little lady is... First of all, she was my first friend here in London. We met thanks to our common interest of ‘alone time’ at the pubs on Kings Rd.  (I like to call it destiny). My first week in London, I had noticed Barbara from afar- she had been sitting by herself, enjoying a glass or four of Chardonnay at the Chelsea Potter. As I watched her, I was intrigued by  her character and confidence… tourists could easily mistake her for the queen of Kings Rd. Each night she’d take up her throne at the pub, accepting kisses and hugs from countless visitors- stopping by just to say hello. It was clear that her small stature did not do justice to her larger than life personality! Over time, I eventually gained the courage to introduce myself to this feisty little woman.

Through weeks of conversations and bottles of Chardonnay, I almost feel as though Barbara is a glimpse at myself in my later years! As it turns out, her husband passed away from lung cancer 6 months ago and she is still dealing with it. From what I’ve gathered, she's had a stroke somewhere along the line and has lost movement on the left side of her face… As for the speech, I’ll attribute the slurring to the wine. Anyways, she comes to the pubs along King’s Rd every night so that she can be around people and ‘feel alive’ again. She comes to be surrounded by others- whether she knows them or not- she longs to see lives that are being lived… it’s funny because I find myself doing the exact same thing. Maybe that’s why we found each other- to teach one another to live a little more than we had before. Either way, I am thankful for a new friendship- a new footstep on my path and name on my heart.

Ps. She’s celebrating her 90th birthday in May and has invited me to be her escort for the evening (she has three parties awaiting her). Cross your fingers there are some lads I can make conversation with! (preferrably  those who can walk without the assistance of a cane, walker, or nurse for that matter.)


I can't put this blog up without sharing one of my lessons learned this week! So, here it goes...

Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days I have seen in London yet—the sun shone its rays all day, without a passing cloud in the sky. This is quite the rarity here, and must be taken advantage of!  The morning began with taking Miss Kat on a stroll to the post office, then a quick stop at the library (she's a bookworm, just like myself). From the library, we walked to St. Luke’s Park, where to our pleasant surprise- the flowers were in bloom and proudly boasting their colors. We eventually settled in on a dry piece of grass and cracked the covers of our newly borrowed books.

It wasn’t until Miss Kat was snuggled up in my lap, that I realized how much my heart was chasing that of a 1 1/2 year old child (a little embarrassing, I know). But I couldn’t help it- the faint smell of baby powder and her rosy cheeks brought a smile to my face as I held on to the moment as long as I could. It didn’t take long for this little one to toss her books down and hit the ground running. Weaving in and out of park benches and flower beds, she ran with freedom. She ran with innocence, with a light in her eye and curiosity in her step.

I was captivated watching her- adoring this little bundle of joy from afar. She ran and ran, often times looking back to see I was still there- still watching and protecting her. In the moments where curiosity got the best of her- I'd call out to be careful, fearing she may hurt herself. During those times, she would look at me with those mischievous eyes and disregard anything I said-- simply wanting to see things for herself. I would then, take a step back and give her the space she needed, the freedom to make mistakes and learn on her own. I believe that as often as she pushes me away- there is still a piece of her heart that secretly wants me there- to love her and smother her with hugs and kisses. 

Having been her nanny for over a month now, I have pulled out all the stops- I've tried every trick in my book to have her look at me and love me. Literally... I’ve gotten stuck in the doll house, put on extraordinary performances of hippos and bunnies becoming friends, sang loud and proud into a stroller on Kings Rd, jumped on the mini merry-go-round at the playground while the other nannies looked at my like I was crazy... the list goes on. Day after day, I’ve made a fool out of myself to simply be noticed by this little girl. I watch her grow and only hope that I am being a light to her and making a difference in her life. She can have her moments of fits and anger, however- when I look at her, all that I can see is the tender and loyal heart she bears. She is beautiful, she is blameless, she is beyond what this world has to offer her. More importantly, she is His...

These words and emotions may sound familiar to some, and foreign to others- yet they are truth to us all. The piece of my heart that I am sharing with you today is much like the Father’s heart for every last one of us. He chases after us, looking on with joy and adoration. He aches to be heard, to be noticed by His children. He is jealous for our time, pulling out all the stops- just to get a moment or two with us. As we teeter on the edge of danger, He calls out- warning us of the pain it may cause. Yet He steps back, allowing us to make our own decisions and mistakes, allowing us to grow. Through our constant failures and sinful nature, he can’t help but to look upon us all and see us as beauty, as His masterpiece.

WhenI told Kat it was time to go yesterday afternoon, I did the same thing that I've done everyday for the past month... I knelt to the ground- held out my arms and told her to ‘come on’. Each time I do this, a part of me always hopes that she'll run into my arms- yet I'm never surprised when she runs right by me and straight into the arms of her buggy. Today however, I saw something different in her eye as she began running. (I half expected another drive by, but hoped for more). Her hair blown back and giggles escaping with every step- she was the image of innocence. When she reached me- it was as if time slowed down… her arms began to open, stretching wide- running towards a sweet embrace- simply waiting to be caught. I was immediately overcome with abounding joy— ‘at last' I thought, 'she's come'! She has opened up and allowed me- if just for the moment- to slip into a pocket of her heart.

I was so excited that as I caught her- I lifted her high above my head, swinging her around and around- until at last, she was settled safely in my arms. We sat for a few extra moments on the grass, where she look up at me and silently placed her head against mine. That simple, unspoken act, meant so much more to me than any words could ever say.

As I write this, I can only imagine how the Lord feel every time we enter His presence. The sadness He feels all those times we choose to run past him, on to something else. Yet the joy felt when at last, we run into His awaiting embrace. When we finally- if just for a moment- allow Him to slip into the pockets of our own hearts. No matter what we’ve done, or how filthy we are- we are the image of innocence. I imagine Him picking me up, and lifting me high above His head- spinning me around and around until I am settled safely in his arms. Tonight, I place my head against His. I thank Him for His love and willingness to share His heart with me.  

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