As I sat at Basel airport earlier this week I remembered that I had written a post for my airport series and forgotten to post it. In my defence, it’s been a busy month.
I have been here before. Not just this airport.
Once again teary farewells. This isn’t a vacation; we’re not sure when we will see friends and family again. This is no two-week vacation jaunt, but a step into the unknown.
The luggage amount is similar. We have five suitcases, a guitar and assorted carry-ons including phones, computers and tablet. Last time, almost 30 years ago, we had a 10-week old infant; there were no computers or cell phones.
How do you leave behind the familiar for the unknown? Last time the journey seemed easier. That may be because of the timing. From the first phone call asking us to go, to boarding the plane, was about three months. We became first-time parents during that period. We were distracted and the whole thing was a whirlwind.
This time it has been four years from when we first said: “We’re retiring soon, can you use us?” It has been four years of preparation, physically, mentally, spiritually. The full impact hasn’t yet set in as we sit in the waiting area, with our flight soon to be called. The past weeks are a blur of goodbyes, and hopefully we have remembered to do all that needed to be done. If not, it will just have to wait.
Last time it was simple: put the apartment contents in storage. This time so much more complex. The house isn’t going anywhere, even if we are. What to bring, what to leave behind? We know you can live without anything if you have to.
I just realized I forgot some things I wanted, but they would fit into an envelope. Or someone will be coming our way with room in their suitcase.
I packed some of my desk ornaments, but not all, to provide a sense of the familiar. Mind you, at this point I don’t have a desk to put the stuff on. That sort of thing will have to wait until next week, when we get a first look at the apartment we hope will be our new home. Then comes furnishing. Last time we were assigned a furnished house. It was basic, but it met our needs. We’ll be basic this time too, second-hand furniture should be adequate.
What is the same is the sense of purpose. We are not uprooting our lives out of a sense of adventure. I’m not a big fan of change, I would be happy to stay home. But we have skills that are needed. It would be wrong not to go.
That doesn’t make it easier. What if we don’t fit in? What if we don’t live up to expectations? What if the work is too hard?
Another thing the same is the sense of team. Not only are we joining a team (and this time we know some of them already) but there is a team behind us, providing support through prayer.
So I sit at gate 64 and ask “God, what are you doing?” His answer is “you’ll find out, just trust me.”
That may not seem reassuring on the printed page, but at Gate 64 it is more than enough.
Written at Trudeau Airport, September 26, 2017.