I sit listening to Radio Nan Gaidheal (Gaelic Radio) from the BBC, thinking and remembering.
Much of this odyssey has been filled with joy, excitement, and adventure. I have been in Scotland a little more than six months now and am feeling at home. Yet...
Two things have happened this week that remind me how far away I am from my first and second homes.
The first was the blessing of technology that allowed my brother Thomas, his wife Tammy, and me to see one another as we spoke. There are six time zones that separate us now, as opposed to the one that we used to have. Still, we were able to visit via Skype last Sunday night. It was great to be able to look at each other -- and astounding at the same time, given the divide of time and miles. The last time we had seen each other was July 23 at the Atlanta airport. We had passed each other for just a while -- I was waiting to begin my flights to Scotland, they had flown in that morning so that they could drive my truck back to Missouri. They are planning to come over in the spring (whether or not they will tote golf clubs is to be determined) and I am looking forward with great excitement to the opportunity to hug them and show them around.
It has caused me to reflect on the centuries of travellers before me -- to think about how much more of a sadness it had to have been for them to realize that each goodbye could well be the last time they would see a loved one, to think about the utter joy a letter could bring even if it were several months old by the time it arrived.
The second was receiving word this morning of the sudden death of a church member and friend from the last congregation I served in Georgia. John had been fighting cancer for 2.5 years -- but his death was still very surprising given the circumstances. Through the magic of the Internet, his wife Judy was able to contact me and give me her phone number. I called her, despite the five hour time difference, knowing that she was awake because we were both online at the same time.
The sadness this time stems from the fact that I am not there with her, to hug her and walk with her through this valley, a journey that we had walked much of together. She and John had been stalwarts at Bible study (even the midst of his treatments), helpers in the church, support, and had even helped me pack for this move.
The reality check sometimes happens -- and the reality right at the moment is that I am too far away to give the hugs that I would so like to give, to hand the tissues that I would have at hand, to laugh at the jokes and see the family members that are dear. As much joy as I know as I adventure, sometimes it is difficult.