7 years ago I was privileged to spend time working alongside some of the clergy in our link diocese of Karnataka Central in the Church of South India. I went in fear and trembling, for it seemed a huge and brave thing for me to leave my family and fly across the world - specially as they were then very much of the age that I'd been when my own parents died.
Going to Bangalore on that occasion was very much a rite of passage...enabling me to grasp that my children were and are now independent young adults who can manage for weeks on end without sight or sound of me. It helped me to grow up as a parent - and in other ways too, as I fell in love with India, - sights, sound, smells but above all people, and learned more than I'd have deemed possible about the strength of the human spirit and the ways in which God is at work amid wretched poverty and blighted futures.
When I came home, I knew I'd left a bit of my heart behind - and for a good couple of years would find myself abruptly missing India, and struggling with the knowledge that I was unlikely to return there. You see, it was a privilege enough to be allowed to spend time there at all - and call it work! - and I knew that particular route would not be open again. But I couldn't bear the thought of returning as a tourist where once I'd belonged as a friend - so it seemed that I was doomed to remain homesick for somewhere I'd only belonged for a few short weeks. Then, last autumn, came the invitation to visit again - this time as one of the leaders of the South India Youth Trip - taking a small group of teenagers from across Gloucestershire to visit many of the same projects and schools I'd visited before....and so I'm off tomorrow, with a joy in my heart in marked contrast to the alarm that I felt before.
It will be quite different visiting with the young people...and I'm looking forward to seeing India through their eyes too. I'll write here if I can - but in the meantime here are some reflections from last time round, - back in the days when this blog was a regular piece of reflective writing that I might have been proud of.
It's me, Kathryn! In India!
A Question of Priorities
Travelling hopefully - remembering gratefully
What the papers say
The Prince and the Pauper
Girl Child Sunday
Of missionaries and their ways