grace

What do grey squirrels, chinchillas, porcupines and toucans have in common? Apparently, they all have a potential life span of 20 years.

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In some ways, 20 years ago feels like a whole life away for me, as well. 20 years ago, I was living in Komárno, Slovakia, teaching English in a Hungarian high school, with no idea whatsoever of what the future would bring.

Last week, the rest of the family joined me for my first visit back. It was overwhelming. From the first glimpse of the town from across the Danube, to the familiar streets and smiling teachers, my heart was brimming over.

There is an idiom, I think, about the years not being kind. We all know what that means in terms of aging, but maybe it can be misleading.

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Only the passing of time can test our resilience, our faith, the desires of our hearts, a beauty that comes from a life well-lived. It was wonderful to meet students who weren’t even born the last time I was there and equally humbling to meet again a former student and to speak about the faith we share.

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In some ways, I have never stopped loving my friends in Komárno, though maybe it took this trip to build up the bridge again. We aren’t left unchanged by encounters like these and I know as a family that we will be talking about our trip for some time to come. Last night it felt right to pray for those we had met on our ‘prayer stair’.

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Like an old friend, God’s grace welcomes us home again and again, accepting our limitations and rejoicing in our company. In this sense, the years are very kind indeed.

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