It is the final week of my Scottish Sojourn, and my thoughts turn towards home.
And as I prepare to move back to Australia, I am aware of the heightened vulnerability of my current state of being. I have spent everything on this PhD, financially and personally.
My bank accounts are near zero, and there is ever diminishing room left on my credit card. What financial debts I have, thankfully, are with friends or family, on generous and compassionate terms, and will not break me. I cannot say the same for the financial burden facing many of my friends in the PhD program.
My energy levels are even closer to zero, and I can feel the same chronic fatigue-like symptoms of aching muscles, sore throat and stuffy sinuses, inability to concentrate, and overwhelming tiredness I have felt before during this season of prolonged and intense stress.
But I am returning home, to be enfolded by the love of my family, warmed by Adelaide friendships and Australian sun, and energy will soon be restored. There is hope and anticipation for new adventures to lift the spirit. There is much satisfaction from a successful season in Scotland.
I will be soon engaged in the task of establishing a new home, and the financial cost of that is a little daunting with my empty coffers. But I am not feeling overwhelmed, or even panicked. For I have decided I will take my time to furnish whatever abode I find myself making home for the next season of my life. This time I will not accumulate donated stuff - however generously offered - simply to fill empty rooms. I will not buy the cheapest things simply because they are the cheapest.
This time, as I establish my home, I will be intentional in choosing furniture and furnishings that reflect who I am, that support the way I want to live. I want to create a home that is welcoming and nurturing for me, that extends an embrace to my guests. I want to be a careful steward of my financial resources, to pay attention and not take for granted what I hope will be a more secure financial situation in this next phase of life. I'd like to invest in quality, in beauty, in local and ethical production where I can. I will be grateful if I am, at last, in a position to be able to so choose.
And as I turn my thoughts towards something new, there is much I have learnt from what has been.
I have learnt that I can indeed live on the smell of an oily rag, if I must; can turn suitcases and boxes into shelves and drawers, and make do in a sparsely equipped kitchen.
I have also learnt that while I can survive on cheap, quick and easy meals, I function more effectively with less sugar, more vegetables, and do appreciate carefully prepared meals.
I have learnt that I belong to a vast, generous, kind community of friendship across the world, that I am not alone, am needed by and need you.
I have learnt the value of the 'stuff' we gather in our home, to remind us of who we are, to shape a way of life that sustains and restores and delights. I have remembered the value of delight.
I have learnt that I am right to seek a place in which to live that allows me to retreat. I have also learnt that I appreciate a comfortable armchair or sofa for sitting, contemplating, reading, stitching.
I have learnt more about my gifts and skills as a storyteller, a poet, a minister; as one who offers the artistic perspective to challenge, heal, lament, and celebrate; one who tells our stories and listens to stories for the strengthening of people and community; one who holds people safe in the discerning process, the learning process, the work of worship together.
I have learnt ways to polish my creative work, to make my creative work earn me something to live on, to share my creative work with my communities. I have learnt that people do indeed value my creative work, and I have learnt that I would rather not have to rely on that work to make me something to live on, that I would appreciate some freedom to simply create.
I have learnt the depths of my resilience, the heights of my courage, the extent of my commitment to the call of the Way of God as the way I choose to live, and I have learnt to trust all this.
I have learnt to be grateful for all that I have, to recognise that although I am financially perpetually poor, I am among the richest humans, with access to health care, education, nutrition, clean water; with the privilege of choice, the gift of experience; with love and embrace from a committed family, generous friends, and faithful church communities all over the world. I have learnt that I am rich, and richer still when I share of that wealth I have received.
With five days left to live in Edinburgh, there is much more I could, and perhaps need, to say, and in time I am sure I will. These are the words for today, five days before the Scottish Sojourn comes to its end.