On the Apollo 13 mission, as depicted in multiple films, technical complications forced the crew to slingshot around the moon and back toward earth instead of landing as planned. The moon’s gravity flung them back, away from the plan they had made and toward the place they had always been going, sooner than expected.
Leaving Seattle last year took a lot of energy for me. Much like it took rockets and EPA-inspection-failure-punishable-by-death levels of fuel to get out of our atmosphere, I needed my friends to remind me what I was going to be a part of as I watched potential futures there grow smaller in a window. So much of the last year seemed like watching big decisions and small decisions made by a bigger one, like having complete control and being completely out of control at the same time. Like driving a car. Like trying to hold onto a small stone during a cliff dive. A feeling I want the quantum physicists and the poets to get together and figure out.
Last weekend I landed back in Beirut, returning to a place I had lived in for almost ten months prior to my four weeks stateside. While so much remains foreign, it felt a bit like coming home. It’s the only place in the world I own a car or keys to a workplace or a bed that is made. In the states I loved catching up with friends about their lives and am grateful for how they listened about my own. I sincerely missed the people I saw and the places we were. Yet, this time, rounding that beautiful rock, my mind working through new solutions between round pegs and square holes, the peace that came over me when Lebanon came into view overwhelmed all the doubts.
If I have come to know anything, it is that God is good, and the goodness I see in my life is a result of His work. I believe that Jesus is the most beautiful person to have lived, because He gave Himself as love in a spiritual, social, and political act that changed the face of history and offers redemption in this life as well as one to come. On my best days, I start with an acknowledgement of my weakness, welcoming the tremendous strength that comes through leaning on my Savior and the people in my community.
Lately I have leaned on Proverbs 16:9 – “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” The things I used to whiten my knuckles begging this gravity to let me keep, I have prayed to see more like water or weathered sand moving through my hands like riverbeds on their way to somewhere with purpose. What stays stays. What doesn’t, doesn’t. I think Wendell Berry wrote this in a poem - We are blessed in both the receiving and letting go. I choose to welcome what will be and trust that my perception of things today is lacking in truth.
Jet lag in my bones, this Sunday, I changed a flat tire on my car that Monday got keyed while parked further from the restaurant than normal because the neighborhood instituted paid parking while I was gone and I don’t have the little card you need. Two days later one of our students looked me in the eye and spat in my face, twice. I wanted to speak with him, but had forgotten the arabic words I needed while away. As these led me toward frustration and away from peace, a truer, more desirable thought came to mind:
Thank you for the chance to not worry about these little things.
Thank you for the chance to choose patience, to focus on the important things.
Thank you for the chance to trust that tomorrow there will be enough.
Thank you for my breath and loud music and my skinny legs
Thank you for your love that grows when given the space,
and more love, love, love,
and more love, love love,