Monday, September 3, 2012

Change and Transition

Change is the exterior events that are readily visible. Diane and I are going through a lot of those: packing up and leaving our home in Tanzania; riding a ship across the Atlantic; setting up a new home in New Jersey; becoming caregivers; and looking for paid work. Change is easy to describe and to talk about.

Transition  is the interior process of meeting and adjusting to change and to what it means. Some transitions are more or less universally understood: grieving for friends and colleagues whom we will not see again; saying goodbyes to places such as our town and the surrounding East African savannah; facing the anxiety of how to make a living; and taking on the responsibility of care for a family member. Those are difficult enough in themselves.

But how do I explain being in a restaurant in Oakland and having to suppress the urge to speak Swahili to the Chinese waitress ... or moments of sadness at the casual ease with which my compatriots accumulate so many things in their homes, in their lives?

How do I tell you about standing in front of a picnic table in L.A. with tears at the sight of all the wonderful abundance and variety of food ... or wondering why everyone is in such a hurry?

The most important thing I got from the re-entry program of our organization was the reminder that transition takes time and often continues long after the corresponding changes have taken place. -Earl

I beg assistance, God of my journey.

To accept that all of life is only on loan to me.
To believe beyond this moment.
To accept your courage when mine fails.
To recognize the pilgrim part of my heart.
To hold all of life in open hands.
From Litany for Times of Journey and Transition, by Joyce Rupp.

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