a night of cold, blowing wind follows a quiet, gloomy friday’s worth of work. winter stubbornly spends its last few nominal weeks like an angry tyrant who knows his demise looms and who is bent on causing as much hardship as possible to his long-suffering subjects before that fateful day. on some streets, there are still puddles sitting, liquid and rippling; on others, strong gusts have thrown them up and frozen them into rough, icy cobbles.
funny how my heart is so warm in the midst of all this ice, so glad in the midst of all this gloom. i have my sights set on a much warmer place indeed, and soon, after less than a month’s worth of waiting now, for the first time in my life, I’ll be gone to live in the warmest place I’ll have ever been: Vietnam.
really a five-month-long visit more than any sort of immigration, I’ll be there from roughly the 1st of April ’til the 1st of September, visiting newfound friends and making more, seeing sights, experiencing the culture—and, perhaps above all, taking the opportunity to serve humanity in some of the small ways I’ve learned to serve. namely, I’ve been asked to help the Baha’is of Vietnam put together a website for their national community, a public face to help their country and the world to get to know them better. I’m looking forward to it—it’ll be an exciting project to be sure, one that’ll test my ability to manage projects and determine customer requirements, as well as my intercultural consultation skills. Baha’i consultation is the same wherever you go in the world, but communicating well across cultures is more than just your regular task, requiring a greater level of patience, sensitivity, wisdom and love. I only hope God will confirm my efforts.
i wonder about my readiness for this period of service, ever since i became burnt out after a two-year period of service in the province of Québec several years ago. Then, like now, I set out around Naw-Rúz, hoping that the budding springtime (still obscured by the usual remnants of a Canadian winter) would herald a spiritual springtime within me—a long-awaited rejuvenation that I hoped would take my frightened, self-absorbed consciousness and raise it to a level that God might deem acceptable. Seven years of lessons later, I feel as though much of the darkness that surrounded me has lifted—and a great deal of naiveté replaced with a deeper understanding of God and spiritual things—but still I feel fear, hesitation, trepidation. I wonder how my mood will fare, how my bruised—yet healing—psyche will hold up to the coming stress. I wonder how I will react to the challenge of service—with fear and doubt, or with courage and faith? I wonder how I will react to the people—will I choose to retreat into my shell and hide my heart from those I meet, or will I dare to open up my soul to them? will I be cold, like the ice that slowly coats the streets of Ottawa? or will the Vietnamese summer—and God’s love and blessing—warm my heart?