Often it occurs during the plane ride as my heart beats with wild expectancy for all that a trip will hold – you don’t have to know me well to glean that one of my love languages is most certainly travel and experiencing the world – feeling the unique rhythm intrinsic to each land, pulsing under every culinary adventure, the unspoken rules of the people, the sights, the smells, the sounds… all of these come together to create such a rich harmony – and perhaps my favorite element of travel is tuning into this beat – and it’s never the same as another I’ve ever before sensed.
However, I must admit that it has been a much slower process as we journey through Japan this week. I am aware that much of this is due to the fact that the last seven months have been a bit of a neverending ride – constantly moving and rarely resting – some fault of my own undoubtedly but also partly due to the season in which I found myself. However, the winds of change have been blowing to the tune of rest and the weeks leading up to this trip, I finally began to listen to my weary body and made some necessary changes, however most of those are taking place when I return – and I feel my soul beginning to settle into a long-desired state of being able to slow down and listen.
Listening – that is what I have learned is so necessary to be present in an unknown land – one must listen – and so I sit here early this morning, film scores swirling in my ears and mind lost in that introverted head space that is both curious and life-giving, fingers on the keys – and I am trying to listen – trying to hear that rhythm – as I have mentioned before, my best friend Katie says “to know Jenn is to know the places she has been” – and few things are more true – as I press my ear to the beat of a newly ventured place, the melody begins to be incorporated into my own – of course endless variations occur, but the tunes throughout my life of experiences at home and abroad begin to dance together, forming around a tonic that is uniquely my own.
And slowly it is beginning to resonate – not all at once – never all at once – but in fragments and themes – in the moment when we began to hear Pastor Yasu pray and lead in his own language after spending most of the day helping us along with his English (Engrish), and we heard his heart without needing to audibly understand his words – in one of the sisters proudly showing us her tattered baptismal certificate from 50 years prior as she beamed with life worn with years and yet radiant beyond adequate words – in Mamiko’s infectious and neverending smile – in the setting of the Golden Pavilion and the view behind the lens of a camera trying to see it through different eyes and searching for “new” angles and frames – in the fumbling and beautiful way that we try to communicate with each other through a language barrier, often with smiles – in the glimpse into Sister Koto’s story of her time in America after a two week boatride and her husband and her ministry – in the moment we walked past the venue for one of our concerts later in the week (an open mall in the center of Kyoto) and Pastor Daniel Bell led us in prayer as we claimed that ground and offered it to the Lord – and especially in the choir rehearsal last night with three local choirs as we began to sing “Holy Ground” in Japanese, and the chorus heard in Japanese, understood in my mind in English, but felt most deeply beyond words moved me to tears.
And so I greet this day still somewhat unsure of what it will hold and if I will have the strength to remain present throughout – but I am placing one foot in front of the other with a single goal: to press my ears to this Holy Ground and listen.
(Thank you for journeying through this with me – I may not be posting daily travel recaps every day but will hopefully post often – however, you can view many blogs and photos galore on our team’s site at http://www.ccmissions.tumblr.com)