Winter brings us Spring

I am in a new season.

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I am in a new season.

We are in a new season.

I have remained silent for the last few months. It’s been a mixture of intentional with a little bit of broken laptop and busy camp season mixed in.

A new home. A new place. This is the first time in the last four years that my future does not lay in leaving but in staying. I do miss the open road. I miss planes and vans and buses. I miss the smell of street food in busy markets and the foreign chatter of languages I have no realistic chance of learning.

Yet, life is bringing me into a new place these days.

This is Jake. I am starting a blog with my best of friends and my dear love Emily. It may appear moderately schizophrenic sometimes. Fear not, this is not dissociative identity disorder. There are just two writers here sharing a journal.

We both love to write. So why not write together?

Around three months ago we both arrived in America. Life is funny. When you are overseas it doesn’t stop in the homeland. People marry, people pass on from this life, and the overwhelming flow of my life last year isn’t even on the radar of most people.

Imagine that, eh? The world doesn’t stop when you leave and it doesn’t think much about you when you’re gone. Shocker? Right? I think though that sometimes we get caught up in the thought, “Why aren’t they thinking about me?” Instead of just living.

Last year was really hard. Last year was really good. To be honest certain times felt like winter. I could burst with all the memories, laughs, stories, and crazy adventures.

And yet the strange grasp of American culture has reached down and throttled our curiosity with hands of instant gratification. Years ago, one would sit and listen to stories, they would ask questions, they would find you amidst the bar stool and the pew.

People wanted to know. Inquisitive. Curious. The depths of the human heart seemed naturally sought after.

Today it feels just a little more dull, a little more glazed over, then in times past.

Imagine forsaking the majority of media and electronics for a year. Sleeping on dirt floors. Eating strange smelling foods. Leaving your own people.

To integrate back takes time. Sometimes counseling. To merely enter a supermarket is to be assaulted by hundreds of boxes of cereal. Thousands of brands, sales, numbers, lights, and options. What once seemed more natural then breath is reduced to alienation.

I’m so glad I’ve been there and done that.

Arriving in America wasn’t like that this time. I expected it.

That HAD happened when I came back from Taiwan. Two years of living abroad left me feeling unable to speak English without feeling embarrassed, misunderstanding all the jokes and pop culture references. And ultimately realizing that people just don’t know how to ask about the last year of your life.

I’m afraid we are losing that ability. Six months ago I could stand near another human soul and ask a question or give an answer. Now a days, it’s almost embarrassing.

“Do you know what this means?”

“Dude, Bing it. (In Seattle we Bing man, don’t thrust no Google on me.)”

This time I arrived in Seattle. It was cold but I wasn’t dying of the cold. I nursed my english and stayed low-key. I may’ve watched an entire season of prison break.

I am living in a fascinating time. Where I have access to the collective knowledge of the human race, and yet I tend to look at videos of munchkin cats on youtube.

I am living in a strange time where traveling is seemingly exotic but people will still correct me about the countries I’ve been too because they have seen a documentary and everyone knows the television channel is law.

And that aliens stole the gold in the federal reserve (Thank you History Channel).

I say all this to let you know, last year spiritually felt sometimes like winter. I sowed seeds upon the ground and stared in vain as it refused to break out from underneath the snow and ice. I felt the sandpaper grit on my tongue as I thirsted to know and experience God. Sometimes I had phenomenal experiences but I felt heavy. Dark. Moody and broody.

I’ll write more on winter and spring in the following months.

Coming back to America has began to thaw those notions of frosted spiritual feeling. Sometimes I wonder why our soul goes through winter. It’d be easy to blame it on sin, to blame it on life choices, to even blame it on attitude.

Yet that doesn’t make sense, does it? Everything about life tells us the necessity of death. Without blood there is no birth. Without blood there is no forgiveness. Without meat there is no health. Unless you are a vegan and scrape nuts and figs together to replace meat. I suppose that kills plants though.

The journey home has often taught me one thing though. Apart from the best friends and the people who really want to know. People generally don’t pry. Here I sit with stories of being assaulted by monkeys and playing in ancient temples and most people are nominally interested in the weirdest thing I ate. And it leads me to conclude.

Humans don’t know how to go deeper. That’s ok. I’m in the same boat. I suck at getting deeper.

You ever have that one guy who you seem to always be around without talking to? Maybe you don’t even say hello, but you seem them everyday at the office? Years pass and eventually you realize… I’ve know Bill for three years and I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation with him. This one thought then occurs…

A killer thought.

A thought that betrays us while pretending to care.

“It would be awkward to talk to him. We haven’t spoken yet and so if I talk to him it would be weird. Because we haven’t talked.”

I think the real reason is that whether we realize it or not, we are confronted with the issue that we honestly haven’t tried to invest in that relationship.

It is admitting that we missed the appropriate time line for initiating contact and at some point felt passive silence and the occasional hello will help numb that.

That’s ok. It’s life. But to talk to the metaphorical “Bill,” in life is coming to grips with the reality that we missed an opportunity, dropped the ball, or just haven’t done justice to that relationship. Facebook can alleviate this by even giving us the false impression we are investing.

“I see photo’s of his children, I’m good”

I say this because when you step off the mission field, it is a surreal and raw experience. It is an exercise in humility. The people who prayed for you everyday are sometimes that person in church you always saw but never knew. Then those closest to you might have forgotten you were even in another country. It flips the notions of our self-worth and often reveals just how insignificant my “Experience,” is.

It is not that what I did, lived through, and felt was by any means insignificant. Oh no, that is poor thinking, rather it is that in the grand scheme of seven billion people on Earth, my life.

Is not the focal point of many other people.

My day.

Is not the morning paper in Indiana.

Why do I say all this?

Sometimes, I wonder what compels me to write. What compels me to put my hearts and thoughts on paper. In a strange way I think, it helps me to get deeper. With others. And myself.  The people who I would never have thought read the words I write, tell me of them, and pray for me. The friends I treasure closest in this life often have hardly an idea that I write at all. I write because it is a wonderful exercise in so many things, not the least of it being humility.

Alas, time is fading, I hope to write many blogs with the lovely Emily. To show our photo’s of our journeys, and to touch on life. Feel free to follow us on that journey.

– Jake

P.S. I forgot to log into my account so yes… it will say Emily posted this. Or I am secretly Tyler Durden. You decide.

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