From A Resident Alien [Letter 8]

Clean pageLetter 8

Just a minor epistle this week.  Possibly.

Rather than commenting on general subjects like 'America' or 'Life In The States' or 'Lebanese people who marry their cousins', I thought that today I would make it a bit more personal-focused.  Apologies if you were hoping for cutting insight/vitriol/cynicism, but this one's just about our life at present.

Let's start with a picture of me, posing with my morning sacrament – a cup of tea.

Every day I wake up, make a cup of tea, and take it for a walk outside to say my morning prayers (Psalms 51, 1, 8, & 67, plus preamble – hat-tip to the Coptic Orthodox Church).  The view, across a tidal marsh, is lovely, and the mosquitoes usually ignore me (because I take a garlic tablet each day).

If I don't start things off with some measure of reconnecting with God and nature, it's going to be a bad day.

Maria and I are still lodging with her parents, and I'm still job-searching (I work 5 hours per week for a church, which will probably increase come January, but probably not before), so life often has quite a weird vibe: being a married couple simply doesn't work without a home to build.

But what this spare time has done is given me space to work through what I think I'm called to – ie. why, from God's perspective, I'm in Charleston.  For example, I just met up with a guy here who works for the Anglican Mission.  When I first emailed him to say hi, this is what I wrote: 

So briefly: I'm David, English, 31, newly-arrived in the States. I'm feeling the tug towards planting contemporary monastic communities and equipping the saints for ministry, leading to context-specific mission and worship, reconciliation between races and denominations, and a general life-as-sacrament approach to church and the Kingdom.
And I'd be very happy to attempt to explain what I mean by all that, if you'd like to meet up sometime!

You'll have to forgive my addiction to multi-syllabic words.  Other projects (starting a cricket club, using yoga liturgically, urban farming) will hopefully follow.  But now, on to my beautiful wife Maria.  

Maria is brilliant at pretty much everything she does, but tends not to realise it. And she looks Elven.

Maria works as a personal trainer, doing all sorts of stuff to help people's bodies work well.  Mine included.  Her clients love her, her boss loves her, and I love her.  Whether this is her long-term vocation or not is unsure (her boss is keen to open another location in a couple of years and sees Maria potentially in charge), but she's doing really well as a newcomer to it.

To an even greater extent than me, Maria rarely finds God in church.  On the waves, kite-boarding: yes.  In the gym, exercising: sure.  At the dinner table, being Lebanese: but of course.  God is present.  But in Christian services, no, not really.

As the wife of someone who believes he is 'called to the Church' (and in a location where the Church's main focus is to get people to come to meetings), that is both a difficult and a brilliant position to be in.  In years to come, we may get plenty of funny looks from people who don't get it, but the Church will be the better for her honesty and ability to see through the crap.

So that's us.  We'd appreciate your prayers and your company (electronic or otherwise).

M&D Maria & David


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