Coffee steaming and that bright nighttime moon moving towards my friends on the other side of the world, I sit here in my living room simply thankful.
How fitting that we went over Thanksgiving.
I’m exhausted and stretched thin, staring at piles of Christmas Ornaments in my living room floor, but I’m joyfully thankful. Thankful that my feet can be planted on the ground either here or there and I can be fully present in the moment… savoring it for what it is and soaking in the beauty.
I was so scared to go. What if I loved it and didn’t want to go home? What if I hated it and couldn’t wait to get home? Fundamentally both were fears of not being able to be fully present in the moment – living in either the past or the future… joy-stealers.
But it wasn’t like that at all. I ate a steaming plate of baozi and enjoyed every bite. I watched my little girl clamor up the great wall, blonde curls blowing in a breeze. She shared my lap with a love-hungry little boy, who scooted up to me on his bottom from across the room, and they both laughed. I held one of my dearest friends’ newborn babies, remembering the day almost two years ago when she held my sweet girl a few hours fresh. I sat with a friend over a cup of hot coffee, talking about what it means to love Jesus and love others and have peace no matter the circumstances. I found a discarded piece of the village to bring home with me. (It will fit perfectly in that spot on the kitchen wall, reminding me of ancient ruins restored to places of life and beauty in the broken.) I listened to my joy-FULL daughter delightedly calling out ShuShu to all the kind uncles (and aunts) she met and saw big smiles spread across surprised faces. I enjoyed jiaozi made by my favorite jiaozi maker in all of China. I worked with the seamstress to design new products (with my sister-in-law and childhood best friend) while Cora played in the seamstress’ living room with her granddaughter, happily munching on an apple and watching Chinese TV. I had lunch with my oldest Chinese friends and her family, marveling at how easy it is to pick up where you leave off.
It was hard and exhausting and stressful at times, but it was so very good. And this time, when I left China, I didn’t leave with tears. I looked forward to my cozy little home, seeing my sweet girl reunited with her Dada, petting my very own village mutt, and of course, sleeping in my own bed. I left thankful.
I may never be able to be in both places at once… but for the first time in two years, I know my heart can be split and it doesn’t have to break.