Returning to the homeland...

In two days, I will be back home in Auckland for three months of summer.

It's surreal. For 12 months, I've looked at the end of this year and my return to the winterless North as a beacon of hope. My return was a return to my family, the ones I loved, the beaches I grew up on, the arms I grew up in. 
For the last six months, returning home has meant spending three months with those I have waited patiently for...breathless anticipation of the long summer days to come. An escape from a city I love, but have felt cripplingly lonely in.
But now...in the last few weeks, I have begun to feel the first few whispers of trepidation. I'm actually scared to go home...excited, thrilled, overwhelmingly happy, but also nervously scared. Dare I say I've formed some sort of attachment to Wellington?

So much has happened this year, let alone in the last few months. I have changed so much. When I go home, will I be the same Olivia who left, 11 months ago? No. I am slightly older, a little bit wiser, profoundly less naive and most somewhat regretfully more cynical. I hold on to a different hope, and I sing a different song. My heart aches, so much more. And it beats with so much more passion. It has been broken, and it is being healed. I still drink way too much coffee, and I still am not a morning person. I still love words, and am rendered speechless by the beauty in this world. But I am also rendered speechless by the pain my eyes have been opened to, by the suffering prevalent in our society, and by the apathy that infects our hearts and so enrages my soul. 
Where does this leave me, where do I fit?

I am reminded of the story of Ruth. After the death of her husband, Ruth follows her mother-in-law Naomi to Naomi's homeland. When Naomi tries to convince Ruth that she should stay in the town she has always been in, where there will be more opportunity for her to find a new husband and be with the people she knows and loves, Ruth replies Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

I am left wondering where my 'true' place is, if I have one at all. Maybe instead of being in place, instead of fitting in, we are called to be nomadic followers of Christ, like the Israelites were for 40 years, and like Christ's disciples were when he sent them out to spread the good news? Ruth followed her mother for love, and she honoured God with all she had. She left the town where she grew up to be faithful to her only friend. She was a scandalous woman, but her love for Naomi and her determination meant she was later blessed abundantly. I am so conscious that I have no nesting place. Auckland will always be my hometown, and I will always love my family there endlessly. But now, Wellington is a place of whanau, where the community I am currently called to lives. Where will I be in 20 years? Perhaps in India, living amongst the red light district as an advocate for the women who's voices are not heard. Perhaps I will be in Indonesia, working with communities who are affected by the exorbitant levels of deforestation by logging companies. Perhaps I will be in Wellington still, with the beautiful people of this community, doing life with them. Or perhaps I will be back in Auckland, engaging with people there, learning what it means to follow Christ in my hometown and being humbled every day. All I know is the words in Matthew... "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Lord...where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people. You, God, are my God. Even death cannot separate us, but instead all the glory will point to you and your splendour. I am scared. I am a traveller. But I count myself blessed to be travelling with you, for you.

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