Saturday, February 5, was the half-way point of my year in Cambodia. Living abroad has brought me more joys and challenges than I’ve ever experienced before. This blog is a small glimpse into my thoughts during this time.
On Friday, my co-workers headed home after a busy week at the office. I told them I hoped they’d have a good weekend and went to eat lunch. When I came back, my co-worker Phon was still waiting to leave. I sat with her for a while and we talked about cross-stitching. I love learning about the work that LWD does but I also love the moments where I just get to talk to my co-workers about their lives. Their joys, their sorrows, and everything in between.
After she left, I went to my room. I worked on my own cross-stitch. I listened to some cool new John Mayer songs. I can’t explain why but that moment was just so wonderful. It was so full of life & love & joy so I lit one of the pieces of incense that Matt and Jen gave us at our Worship Weekend in December.
As the waves of incense rose up to the ceiling, I knew it was a holy moment. I can’t really describe it more than that. Nothing else spectacular, nothing else monumental. Just holy.
I never wanted that moment to end. I wanted to light another piece and another. But I knew that the incense didn’t make that moment holy.
The holiness was already there. God was already there. God is present in every single moment, in the midst of my life, wherever I am. It’s just that sometimes I realize it. Sometimes I wake up, smell the incense, and pay attention to God.
On Sunday, I cried. I cried because sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of justice in this world. I cried for my country. I cried because I feel so useless so far away from home in the US. I cried because while I feel so afraid of the future, I know so little about what it feels like to fear for my life or my livelihood. I cried because there are just so many things worth crying about.
This is the way the past couple weeks have gone for me. Experiencing just about every emotion possible. Experiencing the joy, love, and grace I receive from my host community everyday. Experiencing disbelief, anger, and sorrow when reading or hearing about events at home. I am learning so much here in Cambodia and I know that this is where I need to be. I’m in the groove, I’m just doing life here, and I am happy.
But while I don’t particularly miss home, it’s also so hard to be away right now.
So I lit a piece of incense again. And again, I knew that moment was holy. It was different but it was still holy. Again, I wanted the incense to burn forever, as if the incense itself was my prayer for a just world.
Then, I remembered the eternal flame that is lit in my home church right now and in churches around the world. My incense may not last forever but the eternal flame certainly does.
I remembered that just as that flame is always lit, God is always present. And sometimes, I realize it.
But that realization, great as it may be, hasn’t fixed a single problem. It hasn’t made this world a more just place. God may be present but God works through you and me and people we don’t know. We are the body of Christ, freed from sin to create this just world that we so desire.
What can I do though? I’m over 8,000 miles away from home and sometimes it feels even further than that.
I do know that everyday I wake up and walk and eat and talk and breathe and love and I try, with every fiber of my being, to do justice in all of these things. Some days that’s enough. And some days, it feels like I’m trying to fill the ocean with an eyedropper.
But right now, that’s what I can do. My very being, which sometimes involves my words but more often involves my actions, is the only thing I have.
So I keep waking up and walking and eating and talking and breathing and loving for justice.
And as it turns out, that’s exactly what God asks of me. That’s exactly what God asks of you.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with our God?”
We may not always realize it, but there is holiness in our midst.