Heaven and Pasta Salad

This week had lots of treasured moments for me, and I won’t recount them all on the internet, but there are a few highlights worth sharing.

Caylie wrapped up her week in Kandern on Wednesday, and after making my house shine and sharing iced coffee and theological musings together, my friend Molly drove her to the airport to fly back home to London. The next morning I woke up to call Jacqui as usual, and we plotted a few more points in our book while getting excited about my relocation. That evening Helen picked me up for my abschiesfeier up the hill. I had to go back ten years of photos, but this picture is the one I took the first morning I woke up in Kandern and saw this beautiful garden out my bedroom window.

My abschiesfeier, or going away party, was hosted in this very garden. I sat under that overhang laden with grapes and spoke in German to my choir friends about how ten years ago I looked out from this window and had no idea what a beautiful life I’d have that would lead me to a party in this garden with my German friends – and even speaking my rudimentary German. These generous women applauded me. I have no reason to be so lucky to have been adopted by Hans and Gundi, but this couple have made sure I’ve been welcomed into Kandern life, visited me multiple times in the hospital, welcomed me into their home at Christmas every year among other events, and insisted upon hosting this special going away party for me. The smallest token I could offer my first German friends was to commission some art by my first BFA student.

This couple has taught me so much about generosity during my time here, and I hope to take their lessons of hospitality to heart through the rest of my life.

After my farewell party, I was still allowed (and happily expected) to sing in my last Candela concert which happened to be in the Blumenplatz – in the centre of Kandern – the next night. The generosity of spirit continued as these women made space for me at the tables, and I loved every second of the community gathering in the open air concert with my choir plus my friend Suzanne’s accordion orchestra. Let me tell you, there is no substitute for a German open air concert where you hear a dozen accordions play WALK THE MOON’s “Shut Up and Dance.” It’s the absolute best. I cannot tell you how much I have loved the past decade living in this small town and absorbing the culture of these lovely Germans who are so kind and welcoming.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be heading to New Zealand where my Kiwi whanau is making space for me already. This evening in Christchurch, my youth leader team made the plans for term three with a little hello video from me knowing I’ll be there in the middle of this term to serve alongside them.

Around the time that meeting was wrapping up, I was having lunch with an eclectic group in Basel in another one of my favourite places – Laurie’s apartment. Laurie is another role model of hospitality to me, and as we wrapped up our meal after a lovely time of conversation, she commented this gathering with food around her table was the real heart of church. We’d all come from a church service with one added on the walk over, and we had this holy moment with pasta salad and the presence of the Lord. It was a taste of Heaven with every bite of food. I love to see how God has opened my eyes to find his presence in the ordinary. We talked around the table about the difference between inviting God into a space versus looking for his presence in the world where he always lives.

Thunderstorms are always a strong reminder of God’s presence in my life, and I loved the show I got last night with my neighbours and friends. My week was packed with places to seek God at work, and the three hours of lightning and thunder were a beautiful crescendo as I get ready to stand up and dance in the rain. No miracles of the dancing kind just yet, but I’m so grateful for the miracles of hospitality and pasta salad.

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