The past few days I have sat wondering if I’m truly a traveling type. I seem to have a hard time with the whole “3 days here, 1 night here, just keep moving” thing. Maybe I’ll get better at it as I move on, but I have a deep need to feel at home. I spent a month in Wellington, three months in National Park, and almost two weeks in Rotorua. Each place I have cultivated friendships and connections and a feeling of home.
I sat and worried myself into a corner, trying to figure out why I can’t bring myself to just take my backpack and stick my thumb out to the next spot.
Today I learned why.
“Abiel would you like to come to my women’s meeting? It’s just a small group of us learning how to rediscover ourselves through this program.”
I found myself in a cozy church with a bowl of candies, a pile of magazines, and a large orange piece of paper set out on the table. The semi circle of five ladies each greeted me and settled into the next hour with a curious mixture of obligation and enthusiasm, cutting out clippings representing our identity. (I greatly enjoy things of that nature.)
At the end of the meeting, the things I had said in the middle of it apparently hit home and I got some of the biggest hugs I’d ever received.
From there I went to Anthea’s grandmother’s house.
Upon leaving National Park, I had been given a beautiful NZ jade necklace from my manager and her family. “Have it blessed by a minister and it will never leave you.”
It just so happened that Anthea’s grandmother and aunt were both ministers.
I walked into a home lit by yellow bulbs and papered with photographs of a family stretching further than my Western understanding could grasp.
Five minutes later, my hands were held by the soft weathered palms of two Maori women pouring their belief in God into my necklace and life.
“Would you like a cup of tea? Biscuits? I’ll pick you and Judaea up for church on Sunday. You’re how old?!”
Tears came to my eyes as I pondered the privilege of these moments. Were I simply to move on, drifting only with the wind, the roots I cherish would never land. I could not find myself in situations such as these: cared for by some of the most interesting and beautiful people, willing to love me as I love them.
“You’re whānau (family) now. You’re never getting rid of us,” Judaea chuckled at me when I told her of my evening.
Whānau. I think I’m just fine with that.