Thursday, 10 November 2016

Celebrating the seasons (with cake)

I'm a big believer in celebrating things with cakes. In late March each year, when I've successfully gone to three offices in two towns to file my taxes, and successfully navigated all those conversations in Czech, I celebrate with cake. I celebrated three years of living in the Czech Republic in June with cake. And last night I celebrated my twenty-eighth birthday with cake - cake with a picture of a cat on top, no less.

There's just something about celebrating the different seasons of life and the good things they hold. 

Each year in late April or early May there comes a day when I go outside and things feel different. It smells like summer. I first came to the Czech Republic in 2007 to serve at an English camp, and I spent at least two weeks here for five summers, but it wasn't until I moved in 2013 that I experienced any Czech season other than summer. 

And so I joke that summer is when I fell in love with the Czech Republic. It's also one of the busier seasons in my work-life, filled with travelling to different countries and camps. It's the season when I see the fruit of the rest of the year up close - camps happen, students hear the gospel, and interns are serving alongside us. So, summer is when I remember the Czech that was my first love. 

But then September starts and something lovely happens. Life ceases to be about an unpacking-laundry-packing loop and instead I settle into some autumnal rhythms. This year when I returned to my gym after all the summer travelling the women asked me where I'd been and said that they'd missed me. And it's so good to return to regular church attendance and sing worship songs in Czech, Slovak and Polish. 

Now it's November, I have winter tyres on my car and most mornings are frosty. The dark nights arrive early and I find myself drinking more tea and reading more books. We're still waiting for the first proper snowfall and I'm wondering if my fourth winter here maybe means it's time to buy a snow shovel.

At the end of this month I'll put on some Christmas music as a soundtrack for decorating my little flat for the season and sometime after January 6th it'll all get packed away again. Although, I might leave some fairy lights up because January just feels long, and spring will be far off for another couple of months.

I am so thankful for all the ways the rhythms of this life here have become normal. I know when my winter tyres need to go on, when they can come off, and where to get that done. I've learnt that minus fifteen degrees in Czech doesn't seem as cold as minus five in Northern Ireland (a combination of a better coat and less wind). Going to the post office no longer scares me because I can communicate there now.

I was chatting to my next door neighbour last month as she did my eyebrows (she's a beautician so that's a less weird sentence than you'd think). She only speaks Czech and we were chatting about what plans we had for the week. I talked about a wedding I was going to and she said "I'm so glad you have friends here." 

The meaning gets a little lost in English because there are different words for friends in Czech - she wasn't talking about friends you say hi to on the street, or Facebook friends, but close friends. And it reminded me to be grateful for the fact that that is true. I know people here and am known by them - across languages and cultures. 

I am so grateful for forty months of calling this place home. I am so grateful for the many, many good gifts from God - friends, learning to communicate in another language, walks by the river... And I am so grateful that I can reflect on these good gifts and sweet seasons with cake. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this. I'm so glad you're finding rhythms and relationships that make home feel more home-y, I know that joy well! Happy belated Birthday!