#friends · Books · Religious Books · Travel

Happy Tears

I cried in church yesterday. I surprised my husband, a lot, and I surprised myself too. I’m usually not much of a cryer.

When our younger daughter got married in January, she carried one of my mother’s embroidered handkerchiefs. She gave me a new one, imprinted “mommy tears”. I carried it, but I didn’t cry. At least, not much. It was a happy day.

Today we had an unusual addition to the church service, observed as a part of the children’s message, a “Blessing of the Bible,” perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for all of us there. The Burmese-language Bible, given by a church member native to Burma (Myanmar) will be taken to Iona, Scotland by another family in the church who will visit Iona this summer.

The island of Iona, three miles long by one mile wide, is in the Hebrides or Western Islands of Scotland. A monk called St. Columba came to the island in 563 AD, building the first Celtic church and bringing the Christian faith to Scotland and northern England. Although none of the original church and monastery survive, the abbey and pilgrimage site have a collection of Bibles in many languages, so visitors from all over the world can hold a Bible written in their native tongue. Our friend and her family visited last year, as part of a first “after -COVID” vacation, and noticed the lack of a Burmese Bible. Other friends are visiting this summer, and will bring the gifted and blessed Bible to the Iona church library. How connected we are!

Through our many years as AMIS volunteers, my husband and I have become friends with college students from all around the world, while they are studying in the United States, most of them lonely and missing their parents. Our first student, Ilhem, while I was still a young mom, helped me to realize how connected we all are, though of different faiths and nations–we loved literature, cooking together and our families. A Korean student Julie, was nineteen and horribly homesick–her Catholic background meshed well with us Presbyterians, giving her a little bit of comfort her freshman year. We’ve enjoyed explaining idioms to many students struggling to learn English, with laughs along the way. (It can take a while to explain “stuffing your face,” “getting out of Dodge,” “minding your p’s and q’s” or “putting her face on,” espressions Americans would understand immediately.) We’ve connected over music and Vietnamese food with one student, a music teacher and amazing pianist, and will miss him as he goes on to start his doctorate in another state. Many of our former students are Facebook friends, keeping us updated with photos of wedding pictures and babies–so sweet! I pray for our Russian graduate regularly–what darkness she must be experiencing now. One Persian graduate and long-term friend has her American citizenship and hopes to bring her widowed mother here eventually–she calls us her “American Parents”. I wonder where our new international friends will be from this upcoming school year–it’s always new, different and very good.

I love to travel and meet new people, but the furthest I’ve lived away from home is Texas, where the accent was a little bit different, but the language, country, freedom of religion and government were all essentially the same as Atlanta. I admire the bravery of those who go and live in another country, learning a new language and speaking it every day, whether it’s for a semester, a few years or for the rest of their lifetimes. I’ve sometimes encountered gregarious Uber or Lyft drivers either locals or from foreign countries who seem just ordinary folks, like us, but with very different accents. We travel far, but the world is made up of plenty of good people. We hear way to much about all the bad from the evening news and other media, but day to day, I believe that most people are good.

As the Burmese Bible, blessed with children’s hands and others in our church, wends its way to the site in Iona, I think of this verse I embroidered in cross stitch many years ago:

Wherever you wander

Whatever you do

May God bless you

And keep you

And watch over you

Sometimes things are so happy they make me cry. And that’s ok.

2 thoughts on “Happy Tears

  1. This is beautiful. We need reminders that we are all so much more alike than we are different. If we can accept that, we can accept others and perhaps move past the anger that seems so prevalent these days.

    Liked by 1 person

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