There is something very satisfying about coming to the realization that you belong somewhere. Though we were only in Edinburgh for 14 weeks, and though I can't put my finger on an exact moment, we certainly arrived at that level of familiarity and left Scotland feeling like we were leaving an old friend. It wasn't that sort of awestruck relationship, like the kind you form after visiting a city for only a few days -- more like the kind you have with someone who has revealed to you their ugly bits and shortfalls but you still really like them and want to keep hanging out even if they're annoying sometimes.
Weird analogy? Sorry guys. I like it.
We were a part of the city's pulse. We would get on the bus and find someone we knew to sit next to. We ran into our landlord in the strangest places and decided that yes, the world really is a small place after bumping into one of Wayne's seminary professors from back in Michigan as he stepped out of a restaurant doorway. We formed unofficial friendships with Lidl employees and shared one cashier's excitement as she counted down the days to her trip back to Poland to visit her family. We were annoyed with the drunken revellers who kept us awake at night and knew to avoid Cowgate after the sun went down. We had real, proper tea -- the kind with a roast chicken and potatoes and 2 choices of veg. By the end of the summer we could hike up and through closes without feeling like passing out and had seen so many sunsets from up on Salisbury Crags that they've (hopefully) been seared into our memories forever.
We were privileged to be embraced by a church community who allowed us to become a part of their pulse for three months. They were busy -- they are still busy -- training leaders and working tirelessly in their community to get the Gospel out there, yet they took us in as two of their own despite our short-term commitment and awkward habit of not understanding what they were saying half the time. They trusted Wayne enough to ask him to preach, and trusted me enough to let me on the badminton court and contribute food for Sunday lunch (included too much veg, I was told). They let us into their circles and shared the stories of their lives and their faith and their struggles while rolling cigarettes and shaking their heads in disbelief at the work Jesus had done in their lives. They let us stand alongside them on a Sunday morning as they shouted -- literally shouted -- praise to a God who has promised to make all things new. They sent us off in August after many last garden barbecues and pudding parties and dinner dates and goodbye cupcakes and thorough prayer.
What encouragement! I don't think either Wayne or myself have ever been able to entirely express what our Edinburgh summer meant to us or what it did for our hearts -- what it revealed to us about ourselves and each other and the work of the Church that is happening everywhere, always -- and how that work is sustained so incredibly by the work of the Holy Spirit.
One day while walking back to our flat after a visit to the library, I noticed an older gentleman, hair white and frazzled, making comments to everyone he limped past, a huge grin spread across his face. As we met, he looked up at me and said what he had said to everyone else in a thick Scottish brogue: "Ye should bae smilin', yer in Edinburgh!"
Can't help thinking of how this phrase can apply to so many other things! Ye should bae smilin', ye have a job! Ye should bae smilin, ye live in a democratic country! Ye should bae smilin', Jesus has bought you, body and soul, with His blood!
That last one there. Oh yes.
So -- as I close off the Edinburgh series one year after we jumped on a plane and went on a rather bizarre adventure -- I want to thank you all for tagging along with us after the fact and taking an interest in our stories! I'm sure there's more to come...