Updated: Mar 24
It’s Christmas Day and I’m flying. High above I fly.
I look down and see memories, memories of me;
Etched in echoes of the past. They call from below, to my aching heart and I see them.
Stirring my emotions. These memories have made me.
Just over there, to the north, I see myself, a little girl at her childhood farm, waiting at Christmas for her presents to come. I see cousins, playing and whirling there on the old wagon-wheel papa made.
Loving and admiring cousins; they’re still there, but too far to catch up with anymore. Almost lost in time, but now and again they magically appear, just to remind me they were there. Just below I see my brothers and sisters gathering with our loved ones at Christmas. Once we were all together in one house. Once it was them and me, and we never thought we’d be apart. I look a little further back and I see my ancestors on wagons carting their meagre belongings and children (who were my grandparents); new pastures; high hopes; to new farmland in South Australia. As I fly over, there’s so much depth and richness in the soil that was my past,
And I get a bird’s eye view. My Nana, my Papa, Mum’s old school. The old family station still stands; Dad and Mum told me about it every time we go past, yet it never tires me.
These stories made me. The place where my great grandparents sold homemade ice cream to those travelling by. The beach they slept on in summer. And now on this trip, and this Christmas: new memories.
New memories that, too soon, will become old. Or maybe they’ll be completely forgotten by my children and theirs. Memories! Memories, re-lived and now rare, in my homeland. Memories of Christmas with my parents and my sister’s kids; Christmas Eve Lights and the Sunday school programs I grew up with. And here I find something that lives on in the old Lutheran church: Christmas Eve carols. One of those things that stayed and faithfully kept going, generation to generation. I think someone started it way back in Germany.
Here in a little country church of South Australia, it sings through the ages and reaches to me and my heart, as I join in the chorus. It’s helped shape me and I know it’s why I love carols, still today.
My dad’s affirmation goes with it. Last night he had a brag when a church member asked if we do community carols in Western Australia. Dad proudly said, “Yes, she does! Only to two and a half thousand people!” I’m so glad I make my dad proud. Carols, an Aussie tradition that lives on! I’m so glad it does. A tradition he kept going. And now, me. After carolling, the magic of Dad taking us to see the Christmas lights. It was late but none of us cared.
This was Christmas Eve and we were together! Then there’s mum, always having gifts to give. And my sister’s farm; full of delightful hugs and love from nieces and nephews. I fly further and I look down on memories of Eyre Peninsula; music, my husband’s family and,
the day that changed everything! That’s the day I’m most “re-living” right now. That day a lively, little, country church flew us to Perth to do our first missions outreach. It’s the same path I’m now flying over.
Who would have known that that day would start countless journeys by road and air; across the bottom of this Great South Land; turning us into a mission’s church-planting family with a call far from home. Who'd have known the ripple effect for my five children who have countless memories of wombats and wildlife, and taking dogs and cats too, across the Great Nullarbor Plain. We must have done that trip by road and air fifty times or more. And as my own family spreads out further, the flights extend to New Zealand and Brisbane and Melbourne and overseas. Who knows what will be next? The joyful and stressful anticipation of hellos and the sad emotional goodbyes a week or two later. This has become me. This has become my family and my story. Hello, goodbye and life in between. Some days when I ache, I’m not sure if it was my young reckless nature or God’s call that led me away. Nevertheless, my life has been rich and it seems I have precious loved ones in so many places. It’s not loss but gain. My borders have increased and God has been so good to me. I reflect on that first journey in the sky.
Would I have stepped on that first plane, if I knew my heart would have to be spread and torn in so many pieces and places?
I really, really don’t think I would have.
Thank God He always gives us only one step at a time. As I travel home, Lord, help me with the life in between.
The waiting, yearning for some of the pieces to come back together, even if only to go out again.
But Lord, in the spreading out, let Your blessings be multiplied to this dry, thirsty land that I’m flying over, and beyond. This land that I love.
This land of Australia. This land that I travel.
This land that has made me.
This land that so needs You and hardly knows it yet. This land that You Jesus, gave everything for.
For we are blessed, not to keep it to ourselves; Blessed to be a blessing;
To spread His love far and wide.
And I guess that’s why I travel.
I pray this will always be my family’s story; to be a blessing always. This land below me is where it all began.
Another trip, so many memories.
But Lord, help me with the life in between.