Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jet lag, a cold, or spiritual and emotional exhaustion...

"How was India!?"

It is no exaggeration to say that asking this question is like asking, "How was childbirth?" There is no short, concise, worthy answer. The answer is a dialogue and the answer is still taking shape.

Maybe that is why I laid down at 7 pm on Saturday, and short of a couple ceremonial relocations to end a nap, be in the unconscious presence of family on the couch, or actually brush my teeth and crawl into the covers, I stayed asleep until nearly 7 am.

I can't figure out whether this is jet lag, my body fighting a bit of a respiratory bug after a very close, long, dry plane trip, or a kind of spiritual and emotional exhaustion from having emptied myself of expectation and then being filled to the brim by hospitality steeped in reality with more than a dash grace and disruption of my worldview. And quite possibly, it is a powerful combination of all three.

One of our more disturbing debriefing conversations on the last day in Delhi was with Paul and Ashley. Someone highlighted the way that modern American society's focus on the family as central draws us away from true, functional community (and therefore perhaps the ability to bring about Kingdom). This issue has been a challenge to my own call to ministry. When I stare at the requirements of itineracy for Elders in the United Methodist Church, I find myself faced with a choice about the family I have had for longer than I have recognized my call. And at a more esoteric level, I find myself staring down the sense of spiritual awakening I encountered in my theological life explosion of 2006 and at nearly every family dinner sense when I weigh the desires of my family against a vision of Kingdom. That dynamic interrupts debates about vacation, grades, household budget, homework, cars, health care, you name it. I have struggled for nearly 7 years to balance conversations in my life so that my kids understand that they are just one part of a complicated organism. The things Matt and I do and say to this end is only one very small part of the messages they receive about their importance in the cosmos. I think in some ways naming our smallness is some of life's most complicated work.

And so, when you ask, "How was India," know that my brain is grappling with meta-questions too complicated for quick response. And I am seeking dialogue partners. I am trying not to let my solver, administrator, operationalizing brain kick into concise answer gear. And I think that is part of the exhaustion.


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