From China With Love

I write this blog from Pudong Airport in Shanghai. (I’m publishing from South Korea!) I’m leaving China. I spent the past three months in Guilin, China teaching English… or… doing my best to teach English. I am caught up in the momentum of life and…planes. I believe that God is in the momentum.

I feel immensely grateful. I basically got a three month stay in one of the most beautiful cities in China. I had the opportunity to be of service by teaching English. I got to be important in the lives of a handful of high school students. I made a few good friends. I learned a great deal about teaching – which is my calling. I got to travel on one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, the Li River – ranked among the top 15 most beautiful rivers in the world depending on whose making the list. I am even leaving with money in my pocket. AND, to top that, I get to see my family for Christmas.

This whole journey was made possible by a movement of willingness, trust, and a genuine calling to be of service as an educator. It’s true…I was fired! Let’s not forget the challenges that flowed from the very character of this journey. I have experienced a great deal of empowerment through the challenges I faced teaching and living in Guilin. There was a different quality to the tears I wept on this journey. I have wept for loss and now I have wept for duty.

One of the most impressive dimensions of my trip was witnessing the power of international, online AA. I have never been so humbled by a healing community in my life. It is undoubtedly the work of a creative magician or God or some form of immanent collectivity at once actual, resonant, attentive and conscious – I prefer it all when it comes to Love. During my first week in Guilin I reached out to the central AA office in Shanghai and not a few hours later I began to receive phone calls from strangers all over Asia in AA. I connected with one named Alex. Over the course of the past three months we built a beautiful relationship of mutual support. When he would tell his story, his daily challenges, his experience resonated with me. We were together in spirit, living the same course of change, challenge, development, and discovery in life. Yesterday I spoke with him for the last time at my apartment. I stood in the same window where I first spoke with him and I found it outstandingly poetic that our relationship would bookend my experience in China. It was all God showing me, demonstrating through actual occasions that I am not alone.

Over and over Alex and I kept coming back to the idea of “the order of things.” Put God first, then love ones, then work… this order is primary for how we define ourselves in the world. My experience of the past three and half years, indeed my whole life, gives testament to this truth.

I was talking to one of my sponsees on Saturday and he mentioned how recovery is a social justice issue. This was the first time I have ever heard it stated so clearly. Recovery is a social justice issue and further – putting God first is an issue of social justice. I will have to continue to write about this important idea. It is an old idea, perhaps one of the oldest and most contended.

I’m about to board a plan to leave China… I’m not sure if I will return. I know if I do I will have friends here. One of the primary thoughts that has given me internal strength has been to remember our common humanity. China is an expression of the Earth. It’s people breath air, strive for belonging, care for their young and get frustrated in traffic. The more global my experience the deeper my conviction that HOME is everywhere.

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