For Every Good-bye, a Hello
Our plane hit the tarmac on the first over-90-degree day that Thailand had seen for weeks. What a welcome back, I couldn’t help but think. Good-bye, lovely fall weather of Illinois. Hello, weather-that-doesn’t-require-exercise-to-sweat-all-day-long.
It’s easy to get caught up in those good-byes and hellos.
Good-bye, clean streets. Hello, trash.
Good-bye, convenient everything. Hello, it-takes-three-times-as-long-as-I-planned-to-get-this-task-done.
As I considered longer, however, I realized that for many of the good-byes, there were some lovely, almost-correlative hellos. Good-bye, berries and peaches and pears. Hello, rambutan and mango and guava.
Good-bye, affordable butter. Hello, affordable coconut oil.
Good-bye, Italian and Mexican food. Hello, curries. Hello, freshly-caught, coal-roasted, herb-stuffed fish.
Not all the “hellos” are pleasant. Hello, loudspeaker broadcasting Buddhist chanting. Hello, swarm of mosquitos rising out of the toy box to feast on my baby’s flesh. Hello, spirit houses. Hello, baby cockroach that is small enough to get inside my toothbrush holder.
But some of the “hellos” are wonderful. Hello, genuinely smiling Thai faces and warm hearts that don’t measure the cost of helping against personal inconvenience. Hello, songbirds that gladly sing all the day long.
And, really, some of the “good-byes” are a bit of a relief. Good-bye, plethora of eating choices and oversized portions that put self-control to the test every time. Good-bye, land of more-than-plenty, where desire is so easily rewritten as need.
As expats, we ride between worlds, gladly embracing the “bests” of each, dealing (with varying success) with the “worsts,” and often longing for the best of both worlds in the one in which we currently find ourselves.
One day, we will be expats no more. We will be citizens of one place, a holy place. We will say good-bye to all that is broken and imperfect and tainted and ugly, to all that wearies and betrays and disappoints.
We will say hello to all that is whole and perfect and pure and beautiful, to all that enlivens and loves and fulfills.
We will say hello to Him.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!