Indeed a gift

This is Post #7 about my trip to Korea for the WCC. Please click on these links for Post #1Post # 2,Post #3Post #4Post #5 or Post #6.

I have not blogged since the official first day of the WCC and now it is the night before the last day. But that is because I’ve continued to drink from a fire hose. I’m practicing self compassion concerning my lack of blogging and not being too hard on myself 😉

We have been going going going for 2 weeks straight. In that light, I have made decisions that tended toward time with new friends and not depriving myself excessively of sleep, so the processing of this intense experience has been largely put on hold. Thankfully though, my notebook has captured 92% of what I have heard and experienced, even if I have not been able to digest it all yet.

But I think I will start my processing with this: This time here has been a gift.  It may take me days and weeks and months and years to unpack all that I have learned, experienced, and discussed, to see and know the fruit of this time, to realize the immensity of this opportunity and see its effects on me and the world. But nonetheless, it has indeed been a gift.  A gift that I will steward.

That does not mean my time in South Korea as part of GETI alongside the WCC has been all rosy. It has been exhausting, challenging, frustrating, disheartening, and difficult at various times. We have experienced difficult large group dynamics, small group frustrations, and intercultural challenges.  We have heard about more church politics than my poor heart can handle, listened in solidarity with all those who shared about injustices in their home contexts, battled the exhaustion fueled by an ambitious schedule, and caught various  colds and other sicknesses because our bodies are run down.

But we have also had experiences of pure gift.  We’ve shared and appreciated each others’ various cultural contexts and Christian traditions. We heard enlightening speakers both as GETI students and in the larger WCC assembly. We have discussed various ecumenical issues with our small groups and wrestled over hot theological topics over dinner and drinks at night. We’ve walked to and from the convention center a few times to soak in some needed fresh air and we’ve bonded over shared bus-weariness after many hours cooped up together on various occasions. We know we have beds we could sleep on in all corners of the world now and we know we have fellow travelers on the journey in our common goal of Christ and the Kingdom of God, despite our theological variations and our real differences.

I’m grateful for it all. The tough parts and the more frequent, “wow, is-this-real-life?” parts. I’m thankful for this challenge and this gift. I’m in awe at my new friendships, my mind is exploding with all it has learned and will learn in continued study of these topics, and my heart has been expanded 1000 times over in love with God, with God’s people, and with the whole world.

I’m grateful for renewed hope. Confronting the despair of politics in the church, the despair of human suffering and injustice, and the despair of disunity in the Body of Christ, my hope is surprisingly rejuvenated and enlarged. It is more real and more fervent in light of it all.

I’m thankful for the role this experience has played in helping me become the person I’m meant to be.

And despite so much gratitude, I’m ready to come home. I’m ready not to eat out for two meals per day plus a hotel buffet for breakfast (though don’t get me wrong, that was an incredibly generous provision and I’m grateful). I’m ready to see my Chicago peeps and receive oodles of pics in real time of my new niece (born today!). I’m ready to face real life and catch up on my homework (because I’m in the right field and love my classes and miss my school). I’m ready to sleep in my bed, go running regularly, and eat lots of vegetables (not at breakfast though, which is when they’re most available here).

Tomorrow is our last day! Time to catch a few Zzzz’s so I can soak it up 🙂 

With a grateful heart,
Melissa

P.S. Speaking of Zzzz’s… I’m finishing this really late after a spontaneous round of late night (one) beer and theology session so I hope it has a semblance of coherence despite the late hour.

My seminar group sans one. I clearly did the common Korean picture sign too soon.
My seminar group sans one. I clearly did the common Korean picture sign too soon.
An Orthodox, a Catholic, and a Protestant, walk into a coffee shop...oh wait, that happened today
An Orthodox, a Catholic, and a Protestant, walk into a coffee shop…oh wait, that happened today.
Victor was passing time while holding my camera.
Victor was passing time while holding my camera.
At our host church in Gwanju with one of our hostesses and Noria, my seminar group friend from Malaysia
At our host church in Gwanju with one of our hostesses and Noria, my seminar group friend from Malaysia
In Gwanju over the weekend
In Gwanju over the weekend

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