Sadly, the grove I've been frequenting doesn't look as spectacular as the one above. Instead of purple flora at great heights, this grove is populated with complicated feelings and unburied, unhurried words.
Every Friday at Velvet Ashes, we host a global gathering exploring a common theme to women living cross-culturally, and the last two weeks have featured my own particular thoughts, lessons and joys. Here's just a glimpse:
As all the moms and dads in the room nodded in recognition (and the young hipsters shook their heads in confusion), Crouch used Ratatouille as the perfect example of a perfect story. The characters, the narrative arc in three acts, the despair, the redemption, the victory. This Pixar classic, said Crouch, had it all… and then he sat at the piano.
As the disgruntled daughter and piano lesson drop-out of a spectacularly gifted pianist, there is but one song I can still play with relative ease, and Crouch played that very song. Now his skills were tenfold what mine will ever be, but once I heard that first measure, I knew exactly where this story was going.
“Prelude 1 in C Major” from the Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach is a fairly simple tune, made up mostly of beautifully constructed chords, each note and key played separately, so that you know where the chord will end. The bass note sets the scene, allowing the chord to move freely but patiently. But then, a note sounds off. It’s not wrong, no. It’s exactly as written, and of course Bach knew what he was doing. He was adding complexity to the musical story, taking us “further and further into dissonance,” said Crouch, still playing.
As the melody sped up ever so slightly, and the base notes grew louder, the chord’s end became fraught, confused, melancholy.
Then suddenly, catastrophe. Discord.
One chord clangs so loudly that all hope of a beautiful resolution is lost. Crouch played on, telling us this – this – is the turning point of the story.
Read more about honouring the full catastrophe for what it is: a chance at a better story.
Then I got to humble-brag my way through half a lifetime worth of travels. They say it's not the destination, but the journey and all that. But I say it's neither of those things. It's the faces. The stories. The hopes. The heartbreaks.
No, the wonder of this nomadic life is in the faces God’s brought me, the experiences He’s given me, the glimpse of heaven he’s offered me.
On my knees in heartbroken humility.
Arms raised in hopeful clarity.
Face to face with disparity.
Hands open with possibility.
The places He’s taken me are beyond borders and continents. In all these stamps, plane tickets and travels, God continues to provide a greater understanding not just of this world He created, but of the people He loves, the ways He is working. And even more, the brilliant diversity of His beautiful church. The sons and daughters who worship in mother tongue, serve with overflowing hearts, proclaim freedom and good news on their own inner city streets.
It’s a shame it takes a trip around the world to truly see it. But oh, the places He’s taken me.
You can also read this one at Velvet Ashes. And if you've got a story or two about travel, the link-up is still open. We'd love to hear your stories, too.
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