I don’t actually know why we keep these blogs. I’m not quite sure what they accomplish. I have a private journal; this isn’t where I express and process my deepest thoughts. And if it were, it definitely wouldn’t be public. I’m not convinced that it’s just about keeping everyone at “home” (whatever that means) updated. There’s no way I could give enough context to adequately describe life here. I’ll probably spend the next ten years at least trying to understand what’s happening around me, let alone describing it to someone else. And this blog is most definitely not the wise lessons and observations of some twenty-something year old woman. If anything, I’m more confused about life today than I was when I started this.
And yet, here we are. I’m going to tell you (anonymous reader that I probably/hopefully know) about my life, what I’m thinking about, and what I’m trying not to think about.
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Every day here is its own cycle of ups and downs. At times I feel so isolated. And then there are these moments of connection. I’ve never been one to run short on emotions, or feelings, and that holds true here. I feel everything, all the time. Which means that there are also times when I feel nothing. If you figure out how that works, let me know, because I actually have no idea.
This city overwhelms me. And it’s beautiful. When you look out over the city, it’s like this endless sea of… of… of what? I don’t know. Buildings? People? Dust? Humanity? The hills make it look like waves and waves and waves. It just feels endless.
I’ve only been in Amman six weeks. I don’t want to leave yet, but I want to be at home (again, what does that even mean?). I am only beginning to “live” here, but there is always about 49% of me that wants to be in Memphis or Wheaton, laying around/on people I love there. That’s been difficult. There were a solid two weeks where I was pretty miserable. But I couldn’t leave. I wouldn’t really want to. I’m feeling more and more like I need to be here.
I think I’m just beginning to touch the surface of things I came here to learn. My first semester at Wheaton, I was introduced to the idea of shalom, of peace that is more than just the absence of violence, but the presence of righteousness and justice, characterized by right relationships with God, others, the environment, and oneself. Over and over again that idea has sprung up in my growing understandings of the world. This month, our HNGR course readings talked about shalom, what it does and could mean. And it’s also been just the past week that I am both longing for and doubting the coming of shalom.
I’ve seen elderly mothers cry over their murdered sons; wives try and make sense out of missing husbands; fathers weep because of their inability to feed and clothe their children. And I don’t know it. I don’t understand it. I feel very detached from the war these men and women are fleeing, yet I see something. And I hear my friend tell me that, even though he smiles and tries to be happy, he’s deeply “sad” because his home is destroyed, his family is separated, and there is no way back and no way forward. There’s “nothing.” And I wonder, where is shalom? Where is its very present presence? Can there be shalom here? Even if the violence and destruction were to end today (which it won’t, probably not for a very long time), how could there be justice? How can there be right relationships when neighbors are murdering each other in the streets? Even the physical world has been destroyed – there’s nothing to go back to. Where is shalom? Where is hope? I want to see shalom incarnate, embodied – I don’t just want words. I want to see hope out, walking around – not just some easy proverbs we tell ourselves. Where is Shalom? How/when/can it come?
In my journal, I almost always end with this prayer:
“Jesus, please come.”