It’s hard to believe my trip is over. I have been home now for a week, I am back to work, Po is home with me, my sleep patterns have almost returned to normal…. and still, it is hard to believe.
Each time I return from India, my response to being back in the “real” world is different. Each reentry shares some commonalities: I am shocked by the quiet, overwhelmed by the choices available, and I go a little crazy for the things I’ve missed (ie: there has been a lot of cheese and ice cream consumed in the last week.)
The difference in SOUND is not as stark as it was when I lived in Germany. In India, it is LOUD - cars honking in the daylight hours, music played from various venues, loud speaker prayers that waft through the village. It is loud. And Germany is quiet. People do not speak on the street or on the train; no music blaring from open windows. Everyone stays inside and minds their business.
The differences in OPTIONS is still a shock. When I returned home and went to my local grocery store to fill up my refrigerator after a month away, I remembered this feeling. Overwhelmed, I spent almost two hours in the store, walking up and down each aisle, making sure I saw all the options available and chose the right jam, the right pasta, the right apples. When you’ve lived in a situation in which your choices are limited (“Can you go down to the stall on the road and get me some laundry detergent?”) the CHOICES present in our culture are overwhelming. In a rural village, there are limited supplies of everything. Do you want shampoo? You go to the stall and ask for shampoo. (no specific brands or specialities) Did you run out of toothpaste? You go to the stall and ask for toothpaste. It’s very simple.
With these elements of my culture shock, I add the fact that I do not want to forget my experience. When you’ve experienced profound joy, demonstrations of why you’re called to ministry. experiences that teach you about yourself and the love of God… I don’t want to lose any of that in my memory.
This weekend I am tasked with “reflecting” on my trip in a sermon and for a Question and Answer time after church. I am hoping I can do it justice and give voice to those I met on the journey.