Eastern Europe doesn’t feel like a couple months ago- it feels like a past life. One that I can say I lived well and will bury without regret. It was a strange time for me. It was a strange series of places.
The people, more often than not, seemed to be hostages of time- moving at a slow, expressionless pace. As if the whole room could sit hypnotized in the haze of cigarette smoke, there was a sluggish, dismal pace to it all.
Clear skies were suspended above a culture clouded by a fog of bleakness. The blood of orthodox religion and communism still courses through the veins of these people- dulling the heartbeat of passion and slowing the breath of hope.
The weight of oppression seems to hang heavy on their shoulders. A transfusion of real Life is needed- and Life to the full.
Two flights and four bus rides later, I find myself in Africa.
How do I even begin to explain Africa? It’s also a culture that moves at turtle speed, but not because of the weight of unseen chains and shackles. It’s as if everyone wants to linger in the sun a little longer and stay in this present moment.
I live without running water and electricity here. But there is an electricity in the air- the kind that reminds me of New York City, but for entirely different reasons.
I can feel myself come alive here. Alive to the joy of the people. Alive to the putrid smells of trash. Alive to the bluest of blue skies. Alive to sunsets so gold and bright, I have to stop and stare to confirm it’s real.
Alive to the beats and rhythms only Africa can claim. Alive to the smiles and stares and waves.
Alive to the most alien of bugs, beetles, spiders, and creatures.
Alive to the abrasive honesty that comes from a refreshing disregard for political correctness.
For better or for worse, it’s a place fully alive.
But America is home. And home roots a culture so deep within that a few months abroad isn’t going to shake it from my bones.
I have a love/hate relationship with the pace of our race. We move and do and checklist things at the speed of light.
We are efficient, industrious, innovative initiators.
I love this about my land and my people.
But I think somewhere along the path to status and security, we’ve lost our way.
We are missing the point.
Our lives are scheduled and productive, but all too often void of true, abundant living.
The relentless, fast pace numbs us from the reality that we aren’t really doing anything that matters. Like an anesthetic dulling the discomfort of empty, purposeless days- we are on a constant IV drip of get more, do more, save more, buy more.
Materialism over meaning.
Comfort over calling.
We cloak our cowardice with busyness.
We seek prestige more than purpose.
We exchange true freedom and joy for the fleeting highs of new things, gadgets, and social media likes.
The opportunity of my land is like no other place on this planet. But with that opportunity comes the threat of a dangerous exchange.
An abundance of things doesn’t mean abundant life.
I choose the abundant life God intended for me. I choose calling over comfort; purpose over prestige.
Now, you choose.
Maybe it’s time to pump the brakes on the pace of the American Dream and live the dream to which you are called.
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory