Every year like this one

We were driving through a forest of California Redwoods, our necks craned to the sky to see the tips of the trees. A sense of awe running through us all, these thousand year beings, rooted into the ground, a canopy of beauty surrounding us. We weaved through the winding road, the trees casting dappled sunlight across the ground before us. I was struck then, with a sense of gratitude for all that I have seen this year. To see trees that have lasted more years than I can even imagine, through endless seasons, they have rooted down and stood tall and firm. I am astounded by the beauty of the world. I felt then, a wave of emotion of leaving behind this concentrated year of wonder and awe, a realisation that soon I will be home. The Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean far away, my home soil will soon be beneath my feet. I welcome it and grieve it all at once. Seasons changing, ending and beginning. 

We are spending our last week in sunny Chicago, lazing by the pool and taking care of the sweetest old dog Cyrus. We are taking it slow, finding a rhythm and routine after so long without one, reflecting lots, talking, dreaming about what’s up next. We have had a whirlwind of weeks in the US. Touring the east and west coast with my brother Josh, supporting as he and his lovely Kara played 20 shows in 12 states. It was an honour seeing them live their dream and getting to be part of it. It was the perfect way to close the trip, we talked a lot, debriefed over the whole year, and had tons of fun as we always do with them. Now it’s just us again, and we are pinching ourselves as the days pass. This time next week I will be in my parents home in Brighton. Where has this time gone? 

When we started this journey, this pilgrimage of sorts, we had no idea where we would end it. I had a flicker of hope that we would find ourselves living in a far flung land, being hardy missionaries or something equally exciting. If you had a read of our ‘about’ page at all, you will have seen that these 10 months have been months of pushing at doors, peeking through windows into cultures and countries and homes to see what we can learn and glean. It has been about taking time to ask questions of our future, reflect, be challenged, ask what we want and where do we go from here? 

We both knew deep down our lovely Leeds season was at an end. For all its beauty (and it really was a beautiful season), we had the sense it was time to move on, but to where?

We were thrown a curveball in early September, just a month after we left England, when my sister and brother in law told us they were moving from London in 2019 to plant a church in the north of England. They jokingly said why don’t you come? I felt a sense of sadness as they told us, when I was just beginning to dream about living in the south near my family, here they were heading back north. 

It was a month later, we sat in a little Indian roadside cafe in Kerela, sticky plastic table cloth, cold Coke from the bottle. I ate a mango fish curry and Ed his favourite Biriyani. I said to him, a little tentatively, what if..what if we go with them? That sparked a conversation that didn’t seem to stop for a few months. Emails flew back and forth between us and my brother in law and finally we realised that the life we want, the impact and influence we want to have in this world, well there was an opportunity opening right in our beloved England, right with my family that I have longed to live beside for years. I noted the sense of irony, my itchy travelling feet looking to the world for what’s next, and all along God knew he would call us home, for this season at least. 

So, we will hit the ground running. We will take a few of our things from my in laws home where we packed it all into the garage, and we will move to the big smoke for the short term. (Another dream that I have harboured by the way, oh he is good.) We will work me nursing and Ed surveying, and live with my beautiful and kind grandma, just round the corner from my sister (Hallelujah)! We plan to attend HTB Church (the sending church), grab the vision for the plant, integrate into the team and start planning and training for the move. With all of this, we have said a tentative yes - I have been keen not to make official plans until the year is over, but hey with 1 week left to go we feel pretty sure.

This year has given us huge vision and perspective into the world at large and the world wide Church. We have no doubts we will somehow be involved in overseas work throughout our life, when, how and where, we do not yet know. A love for travel and people and social justice and mission work has only grown in us since we left and I look forward to seeing how that evolves back in England. We don’t know where God will take us, but the people we have met have been significant to our journey and we know connections with them hold a place in our future. 

For now, the rolling hills of England are calling us home. We are ready to embrace this season, however long or short it may be. We are ready to get stuck in and serve and give and grow and learn. To be amongst family and friends. We are excited to invest and bring back pockets of the world in what we have learnt. 

Thank you for following our journey friends, it’s been a the most special kind of year, one we will treasure forever. I have an inkling it is just the beginning of the adventure.

On another note - I have found through this blog a love of writing and processing through words. I will continue a simple lifestyle and home blog when I get back home to keep up this creative avenue and invest into some of my dreams. If you’ve enjoyed reading, look out for the launch of the blog and keep up with our journey. 

Bethany WalkerComment