It’s been a number of months and I find myself preparing for another trip across the waters, back to friends in a country far away. There have been some emails, and a couple of phone calls, but mostly it is the distance and time itself that has heightened the need to return–the desire to renew face to face relationships that have, in many ways, just begun. In a world of constant and immediate communication, this tie to Rwanda reminds me most of what it was like as I grew up in countries far from home–of waiting for many months to see extended family—listening to recorded tapes of friends and neighbors, cousins close and distant. Wondering if I would remember the faces of loved ones left on another shore, or the fading taste of favourite foods, unable to be enjoyed, like sacraments long neglected. Anticipation was the greater part of the joy, it seemed, when we finally headed ‘home’. I have that same feeling again. Nervousness mingled with desire; longing and hesitancy held together. No web-based Face-book friends here—I am my own face-book, heading out on a plane Sunday night to be opened in person for those caring and brave enough to read its pages, as I read theirs.
Why now? I am returning sooner than I had planned but momentous changes are afoot in Rwanda’s Anglican church as a number of bishops, including Archbishop Kolini, retire in the next few months. One of the new leaders–the man selected to shepherd the diocese where Redeemer is closely connected– is someone I knew well in Colorado Springs. Laurent Mbanda and his family served in Colorado with Compassion International. Susan worked for him, his family stayed in our house once when we went on vacation; we drank coffee together and spoke of the world beyond the mountains. Before that he had lived in Deerfield, studying for his PhD at Trinity. Now he is being consecrated bishop for the Shyira Diocese and will assume leadership when +John Rucyahana retires in November. This journey brings together a number of apparently disparate paths: personal, familial, church and school-related. But life is more coherent than we think, or at least as it appears in the moment. So for that reason, and others I can’t fully articulate, I will be in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Musanze, Rwanda on March 28th for the service of consecration, in a church of which I am part yet so far away, with people who are brothers and sisters. This journey is really an embodied prayer that God will close the distance and bring the paths together.