Every body continues in its state of rest,
or of uniform motion in a straight line,
unless it is compelled to change that state
by forces impressed upon it.
Marienplatz, Munich, February 2012. Dinner is served!
It's doubtful Newton had in mind an expatriot while investigating Laws of Motion for his famed compilation Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, but I've found the physical laws that form the basis for classical mechanics to apply to the inner man of an expat as well; the First Law, anyway–
I've been plucked from the familiar and comfortable, temporarily transported to another place that is much the same.
Except for the differences ~ and distance ~ from h o m e.
I'm not the only one, of course; there are others that are the Same Kind of Different As Me. And they understand (we all do):
If we aren't swimmin', we're sinkin'.
Most of us, if not all, would agree this assignment in Germany is a gift; for each one it was wrapped a little differently, but nevertheless, a gift!
We're explorers, discoverers, miners. We see old things with new eyes. We're meandering through history's dusty pages neverminding the mites. We find gem and ore, precious and rare, in veins shiny and in plain view yet hidden from those whose vision is dulled by familiarity.
What I didn't expect was the need for Others Like Me. And because I didn't expect that need, there was no way to anticipate its provision!
Gift upon gift.
Just when I seem to need it most, one or a dozen hands are reaching out, reaching in, reaching down…to pull me in or out or up.
Because despite the adventure and beauty, regardless of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,
there's no place like home.
I hear some of you whispering that dog-eared cliche, "But home is where the heart is!" And, I'm inclined to agree, except there are three pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, thousands of miles from my kiss goodnight.
So, like I said, sometimes I can sink.
Never have I been more thankful for community; a community I didn't anticipate, one that I'm sure many of my people back in the States prayed for, a God-gift He knew I'd need and provided for in advance of my arrival….
All of us share one common bond: we speak English.
Who knew language in and of itself was the basis for "community"?
Many of us share the workplace (directly, or in my case, indirectly).
Most of us share gender.
And one even shares my blood…out of all the countries in the world, my husband chose the ONE place where I have family! My first cousin, with whom I've only previously shared life a week at a time, 35 years ago.
And getting back to my original point ~ what was it now? Inertia! ~ this is what it takes to keep us from sinking.
We have to keep moving. Too much rest is debilitating.
Not busyness for busy's sake, but doing life together. Not mere bodies in motion, but creative energy. Checking in on one another. Making plans (oh, dear…I'm having to m.a.k.e. p.l.a.n.s.! NOT my strong suit). And PICKING UP THE PHONE AND CALLING EACH OTHER!
My long-time friends know this is effort for me–I have a decidedly strong phone aversion.
We ride bikes. We explore town and country. We buy $2 paint sets and try our best. We meet often for coffee and warm pretzels. We hang out and talk and learn and change.
Life preservers. Life preservers in the shape of people, love-gifts from God, making a difference by being willing not to go it alone.
My best advice for anyone moving to and living abroad for any length of time: find some people and do life together.
Come to think of it, that's pretty good advice for when I'm home, too.
Dedicated with affection to Ellie, LeAna, Vanessa, Deede, Barb, Amanda, Daria, the two Traceys, Kimberly, Deborah, Suzanne, the Breakfast Stammtisch peeps…and Gordon.
You’re so right on with this post, Robin. Community is vital to a vibrant life wherever we call home (temporary or permanent). However, sometimes it takes radical change to make us see our need and to spur us on to “do” something about it. Putting ourselves outside our comfort zone (as you are) can lead to great growth!
I love this post, Robin. Have you read Bonhoeffer’s Life Together lately? You couldn’t be in a better place (geographically and otherwise) to read it. I wrote a Poe,m after reading it. You have to read it since I know we are soul sisters when it comes to poetry. 🙂 http://www.shawnanigans.net/2011/01/03/life-together/ so glad God is pressing and blessing you.
Finger typing lying down. ‘scuse mistakes!
I GET IT! totally get it – it’s amazing the way God stacks out deck with awesome deeds we NEVER expect!
I know I know I know. I felt this stuff in Scotland. You never realize how much HOME is HOME until you are somewhere else trying to make HOME but knowing you are going back HOME.
(We temporary ex-pats speak the same language… so just know I hear you.)
I hopped over from Annie’s blog and really enjoyed your post! I’ll be swinging by often!