Monday, 23 June 2008

Refugees and Nomads

Yes I am on my travels again this week, not so far this time, just to Gančauskus near Sigulda where I am teaching English in a camp for a private Russian school. This is a new experience for me as I have only done Christian camps before and it should be interesting to see how things are run differently. Not sure how much of a challenge the language will be either as I am unsure how much English any of the other members of staff know.

Thought I would post some reminisces from my time in Petworth that I found while sorting through my bags from travelling. 

The life of a refugee and a nomad

I have felt a little like a refugee a few times in my life just lately. It is a story of excitement and adventure but also of boredom. The life of a nomad on the other hand can seem quite boring in comparison as the story seems less exciting in the telling. What’s the difference? A refugee moves because they have to, often under the threat of terror from others or fear of poverty; their journey takes thim to places they do not know with the few possessions they can carry. A nomad takes their journey to places they know and they carry everything with them; it is also a lifestyle they are familiar with.

So why do I feel more like a refugee than a nomad? It is not because I am under threat, unless you include the possibility of breaking the law if we had stayed on in the US, but because we have had periods of time travelling with what little we can carry. It is in these times realise how utterly boring it can be and exhausting to be a refugee. Constant travel is tiring and boring when you are not surrounded by the usual familiar means of entertaining yourself or from filling in your time. I am blessed that if I feel that I am getting bored I have my computer, or I can buy something like paper and crayons, sewing things etc to occupy my mind or luxuriate in observing the scenery without feeling I have to be doing something. I am also blessed with the reasonable certainty that this period of time will come to an end and I will be reunited with my things and space and time to enjoy them.

Confronted by the odd moments when I have so little with me that is mine and removed from the ordinary daily routine are the moments I connect with the life of a refugee. Refugees are so often despised when they arrive on the shores of our prosperous countries as people cannot comprehend what it is like to have to travel through fear, travel is tiring, travelling with fear must be exhausting. What do you then do when you are cut off from the normal routine of life? When I have nothing to do at all except feast my eyes on the landscape of my Creator, my mind wanders over the images of my past and hopes and dreams for the future. A refugees mind may only fill with horror and fear for the future. When I am hungry - I have money in the bank to feed myself, when I am tired - I sleep in a bed whether it is a hotel or that of a kind host. So m connection with being a refugee so far has made me aware of how we need to treat people cut off from their old lives to be aware that they may need time to sleep, or things to do to give them a sense of purpose or to give their minds time to heal a little from the trauma of the past. We can never wipe out the past, nor should we but we can help by giving a hope for the future to lift the refugee of the despair and a sense of identity and of worth.

For me though I am going to choose to become more nomadic in my existence, reliant on less things to occupy my time or even steal my time and more able to carry around with me the things I need. With discipline you can travel with very little - how many clothes do you really need and still be able to dress appropriately for each occasion? There are remarkable inventions called washing machines you know! What do you really need to occupy your time productively - bearing in mind God has called us to be productive? Paper, pens, books to fill your mind as well as your time, the list could be endless in many ways as God has made us all unique and each of us will have different priorities and gifts. I do know that next time on my list is amy small scale art projects that I was going to do and forgot to pack it this time, as well as plenty of paper to organise my thoughts and my computer to communicate with those I have left behind.

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