Excerpt from Jo Kadlecek’s personal blog ‘A Sun Burnt Faith’. Jo is an author and journalist from the US and wife of current ASC lecturer Chris Gilbert who’s teaching The view from Australia class. They moved to the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane about a year ago. Reproduced with permission.
It’s been a year now since moving to the land down under. A year of sunrises, none quite so spectacular as this one at the Easter morning worship service on the beach where the river mouth spills into the ocean. (At least none that I know of since I’m not usually awake then.) It’s been a year of dog walks and magical drives. A year of language translation and hilarious bird songs. A year of stunning blooms and great coffee talks (as in, no such thing as bad coffee here).
The colors and cloud displays daily point me to God’s creative hand playing with his palette. Same with the winds and waves, the gumtrees and flowers, each commanding the attention of anyone who is breathing. Every where I look here, in fact, from the beaches and hinterland to the rocks and farms, surfs and lakes and rivers, an Artist is at work. And he’s set the thermostat at a happy temperature for me—no frigid days. No snow to shovel. Like, ever.
But living in Australia is not always as “happy as Larry” (someday, I will get to the bottom of Larry’s identity.) When you move somewhere with only a hint of a purpose, there can be an ongoing learning curve. I still, for instance, ask my husband or in-laws about words and directions and meanings. Just reading the newspaper is an education in cricket and rugby, domestic abuses and shadow governments. I still walk out the door with questions and come back with more. And I still stare at a place and way of life quite different from the one I grew up in Colorado or enjoyed on the U.S. east coast as an adult.
Kookaburras, kangaroos, or koalas are images in children’s books here because they are common realities. So, too, are chook roasts or pavlova, which before now, I’d not considered for a meal. Nor had I eaten a mud crab or barramundi, swept a gecko or spider out of my bedroom. And I really never worried much about different spellings or attitudes toward “crazy Americans”— until now.
Grateful as I am to have this opportunity with my husband’s ageing (Aussie-spelling) parents, I know that feeling settled can take time. They say, in fact, that you need at least three years of sunrises before you begin to feel at home. In other words, the wonder of discovery is one thing, planting roots is another. So the waves of nostalgia can sweep over at unexpected times. Somedays, there’s an ache in knowing I’m too far away to applaud my niece’s play, too far to take my friend to dinner for her 50th birthday, too far to holler at my nephew’s soccer games. Skype, though a beautiful ‘presence’, doesn’t yet include the aroma of brownies in the oven or the hug of little arms.
Sure, any immigrant experiences a range of disconnects over even the basics of daily life (start with a phone number), just as any person who has uprooted her life from one town to another moves through miles of change. The challenges of transition, however dramatic or small, forced or invited, are real, and sometimes require an altogether different map.
So three cheers for the sunrise of Easter, because the miracles also are as real as the water on your toes. Both mark the journey and can point us to the Maker who, well, makes new ways through the wilderness—and beach.