Monday, December 17, 2007

The end of a Journey

I’m sitting by a fire in old London town. The temperature outside is officially below freezing and O Brother Where art thou, is on TV. This stage of the journey comes to an end though the future is as yet unwritten. I look forward to being home and lighting a fire and having a few friends round. We will lean in, with a glass of wine and listen to our lives and the stories they hold. But for a brief taster the last 4 months have included ……….

27000 miles by airplane (I have a forest to plant)
4000 miles by train, bus, taxi, Tuk-Tuk, motorbike, elephant, bicycle and foot.
4 Continents, 9 countries, 16 Books, 945 photographs,

Lots of people and cultural joy including;

Paris Je t’aime. Le Coup de Monde, fresh croissants, Versailles, Buddha Bar, Bastille food markets, museums that make an impression, Notre Dame, St Sulpice, Canard au miel, good wine and cycling through the Bois de Boulogne laughing like children with the mullingtons …… oh yeah

Nashvegas, city and people of my heart – if it was near the sea it would be damned near perfect. But anytime spent there is always a blessing and it can still surprise you and offer new possibilities and friendships to explore.

New Zealand – breaking bread with Mike and Rose Riddell. Remove your shoes because this is holy ground where both body and soul are nourished and loved. And the Coromandel peninsula wasn’t bad either, not forgetting the Good Dr when he finally made it from Tahiti.

Australia – Catching up with friends and family, Manly Beach, the ferry, drinks on the Opera House terrace.

Vietnam. The pollution and motorbikes of Hanoi, the glory of spending a night on a boat in Halong Bay. The charm of Hoi An, Ancient Cham Palaces and then Jungle Beach – a week in my own private heaven reading the Psalms and finding prayer as natural as breathing. Saigon, Vietnam war relics and tunnels. Mekong Delta Trip – coconut candy, floating markets, eating snake and crossing into Cambodia.
Cambodia, the water festival in Phnom Penh, the royal palaces. The horror of The Killing fields chills you to the bone and then the glory of Angkor Wat leaves you breathless. That first morning walking across the causeway to the temple, still water with lilies floating on either side and the suns first rays giving shape to the ancient stone walls. Unforgettable. As was the road to Thailand, the boulevard of broken backsides.

Thailand – chilling out in Bangkok and then heading to Chiang Mai. Bookshops, Cookery courses, fantastic foot massage, markets and falafel. Trekking into the villages on the hills, elephant riding and white-water bamboo rafting. I wrote this in the van on the way back

Elephants and Waterfalls.

This morning

Riding on elephants in the dappled green sunlight of a tropical forest.

The Mahout starts to sing quietly,

and the elephant trumpets softly and then walks on .

Stillness falls and it is a holy sacramental moment.

In the afternoon I see a rainbow in a waterfall.

On days like this I believe.

Singapore – Shiny shopping centres and afternoon tea at Raffles – well its gotta be done.

And that is just a few of the highlights. I’ve been privileged to meet many amazing people, learn new perspectives on the world, been amazed by the kindness of strangers and the prevalence of wireless internet. I’ve seen more sunrises than in the previous year put together, prayed more, read more, been surrounded by Grace and had some great food (even the snake wasn’t bad).

At the end of it I’m happier, relaxed and comfortable in my own skin than I’ve been for a long time. I am who I am and I’m happy with that. Whatever I do next the job will not define me and that is a strangely comforting notion. I’m thankful for home and friends – coming back to old friends and new life and long walks on the beach, turf fires, red wine and frosty mornings.

I’m glad to know you all and look forward to sharing our lives and stories in person very soon. In the meantime no missive would be complete without a quote from Mr Frederick Buechner, indeed the motto I try to live my life by.

LISTEN to your life. SEE it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: TOUCH, TASTE, SMELL your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. Frederick Buechner

All is well and all is well and all manner of things shall be well.

May Blessing surround you at this hallowed and gracious time of year.



Feminine Feminist said...

Beautiful thoughts. Perfect timing. Thanks, Marky.

The Father said...

no problem. Enjoy your Christmas adventures in South America and come home safe. m