|William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Limbo is not a concept in Protestantism; yet often do we live there, at least this side of heaven.
As a Christian, the notion of ‘call’, of God leading and directing us to a particular path, of waiting to hear God clearly, of discerning that it is God’s voice and not my own or the voice of others, is steeped deep in my bones.
I have been called before to work in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and have been to Iraq with CPT for roughly two-month stints from 2005-2010. I did not go this year, mostly because I have been ambivalent about whether I am still called.
How do we know when God calls? Even more, how do we know when God stops calling? I wish I knew.
What follows is a random part of my own thought-process when I met an Iraqi woman this summer at the PC(USA) Big Tent event in Indianapolis.
***Fi kelbee, anni Iraqiya.
It’s a phrase I haven’t said in a long time . . .
“In my heart, I am an Iraqi.”
As I meet Martha at the Big Tent gathering, she is introduced for her work with refugees in California. The man who introduced us surprisingly says to Martha (about me), “She’s Iraqi.”
Martha, a Middle Eastern woman, looks at me with frank surprise. I grin and say, “Anni Iraqiya, fi kelbee." [“I am an Iraqi, in my heart.”]
We both laugh, exchange pleasantries and basic information, and move on.
Yet the phrase hangs with me.
Is it still true that I feel this affinity for the people of Iraq? I think so. But what am I going to do about it?
I haven’t been since the winter of 2010.
“What have you done for me lately” isn’t just asked by sports figures looking for the better deal (watch the movie Jerry MacGuire if you don’t get the reference).
It is a fair question for people caught in all sorts of webs to ask of those who would help them or walk alongside them as they endeavor to help themselves.
|Kurdish Iraqis not allowed to vote in 2009|
No one is asking me this question, at least not in person, face to face.
But I still hear the question ringing in my ears.
Will I go back? I do not know.
What am I waiting for? I do not know.
Do I feel the pull? I do.
Am I exhausted by the implied rejection of the work I do in Iraq from family, friends and congregants? I am.
Is it their ‘fault’ I haven’t gone back? No.
What am I waiting for?
I do not know.
God’s voice has never boomed from the sky for me, but I have never before had such a sense of unknowing.
Limbo. It’s a place I don’t like living in much.