Home again—that in itself is grace. After 7 weeks that included an extended stay with family in Kigali, a brief tourist spin about London, and an incredible week in Istanbul and ancient Ephesus, home is a very good place to be. Grace abounds. Ever the God-spy, I sighted grace everywhere we wandered, and seated now in my favorite chair, with a cup of coffee, I savor the memories.
--Hospitality: We knew that 6 weeks was pushing the limit even for family (maybe especially for family), but various factors dictated our schedule. In retrospect, we do not regret it. We were able to enter the routines of everyday life in Kigali and take our part. In Istanbul, my former college roommate, Barbara Baker, took time off from her job as a journalist to host us and show us the sights of that amazing place. Hospitality, a grace-gift, welcomes people in, makes them feel like their visit is also a gift.
--Intercultural relationships: I loved being with our son David in Kigali, listening to him converse so freely in Ikinyarwanda, watching him relate to local Friends believers, appreciating how much he and Debby have entered this context and made it home. That was also one of my favorite parts of our time in Turkey—enjoying Barb’s linguistic and cultural expertise, and especially her relationships with her Muslim neighbors. I’m seeing again how that when God calls a person to service in another culture, God gives the gifts that enable that person to learn and relate—and love the experience. Grace, all grace.
--The antiquity and continuity of the church: Much of our time in Turkey had to do with antiquity. Ruins, history and a sense of the passing of time. We wandered the domed halls and dark stone passageways of the Hagia Sophia. Built during the time of Constantine, serving as a Christian cathedral for over 900 years, as a mosque for almost 500 years, now a museum, images of the different religious traditions seemed to compete for ascendency. We walked the ruins of Ephesus, one of the four largest cities in the Roman Empire during the time when Paul planted a congregation there. Long since destroyed by earthquake and wars, tumbled stones and columns supporting no roof can only hint at forgotten splendors. The forms of the church pass away, yet its substance remains and grows and reaches into every corner of the earth with more grace than we can imagine. Antiquity and continuity.
--Spring flowers tucked into the ruins at St. John’s Church near Ephesus.
--The Turkish carpet seller (one of Barb’s friends) who served us Turkish coffee and talked us into buying a small rug for a large price that we somehow didn’t mind paying.
--Home again in the Oregon spring.
Thanks be to God.
Cheribim mosaic in the Hagia Sophia
St. John's Cathedral near Ephesus
In the Istanbul bazaar
Buying a rug from Barb's friend Kalender