26 July 2011

Not quite home

Much to the delight of Matthijs and I, our apartment has quickly taken on a feeling of home. After a few days of work and some help from Matthijs's parents, all the boxes were emptied and things were put away. There could still be a bit more organising done (finding things can sometimes take awhile), and the delay with the internet was a bit frustrating, but these have not detracted from a general feeling of being content in our new place. The interactions with our neighbours (and the community in general) plus the sunflowers given to us by the Oude Kerk as a welcome have contributed to a sense of well-being here.

Yet, there's still a tiny feeling of not being quite home, which has nothing to do with the pictures not being hung on the walls. Both Matthijs and I are still trying to figure out what the new normal here is, especially in terms of our daily schedule. For Matthijs, he's now figuring out how often he'll commute to Den Haag (and how hard that is on him) and how well working from home goes. For me, I'm trying to create my own rhythm of doing research (how much at home and how much at the university?) and participating in the community (daily prayer and random conversations being an important part of that). Seeing as I've lived here before and participated in the community while doing research, I kind of assumed that the rhythm of that would come back to me.

The only problem is that even though Amsterdam (and being part of the community) was home for me, I haven't returned as the same person to that same home. The community has changed somewhat, as have I. My desires of research and community life are still present, but they've now been joined by the desire for a good marriage with Matthijs. And in Matthijs, I receive a gentle push to work harder on research and wonder about healthy boundaries with regards to the community. And eating at home with Matthijs and talking about our day now fills up time I might have earlier spent with the community. And as for daily prayer, it's a habit I've gotten out of - and it will take time and effort for that to become once again part of my day rhythm. Finding a rhythm will have take in all these changes.

And so Matthijs and I have come home to my Amsterdam and my community, only for me to discover that it's not quite home if it's only mine. Just as our apartment has quickly become home through our shared stuff and shared dreams, it is my hope that Amsterdam and the community will soon also become our home as we explore them further together and share our hope of serving God faithfully here.

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