If he speaks to you in parables

Mark 4:26-34

This is what the kingdom of God is like:

The mystery seeds became Cosmos.

The mystery seeds became Cosmos.

I planted seeds early last spring, not knowing what, if anything, would emerge; trusting there was life in the seeds that time, soil and water would tend. I looked each morning to see if there was any sign of a plant emerging. Day after day, I’d take my walk and check on the site, nothing. I began to doubt the process, yet each morning I looked. And one morning a green little sprout appeared. Was it the flower I had planted or a weed volunteered from the rest of the garden? I watched and noticed there was a row of such sprouts emerging from the spot I had planted the seeds. I let them grow as they needed. It’s a mystery, this seed becoming a plant and sporting flowers that brought beauty and fragrance to my garden. All I can do is plant, stand back and let it happen. And then cut the blossoms when they are ready.

A tiny little seed that has the potential to grow into a vast shrub. Like those rose of sharons that emerge all over the place. They are so prolific, unchecked they would become a forest of shrubs.

Your kingdom is a mystery, a word, an action, small in itself, yet has within it the power to explode into life. Your kingdom mysteriously grows and provides food, beauty and provision. Let your kingdom come!

“AS they were able to hear it. BUT privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” Be his disciple, obey his word, follow him and they will be explained.

Passing through this foreign country called life

Thoughts from a long term tourist (1)

photo by Wes Loh

At the Musee Carnavelet in Paris, 2007

Jack and I had just finished our third week in Paris. We’d unpacked, settled into our apartment, walked, worked, rested and made fools of ourselves attempting to speak the language. Generally speaking, it was going well. But being a sort of long-term tourist in Paris raised some thoughts in my mind.

I hate looking like a tourist. You can spot them a mile away, guidebook in hand, a dazed or an awed look on their face, standing on the corner consulting a map of the city. Living in a tourist city like San Francisco has heightened my awareness of how touristy tourists look. And how annoying they are, with their slow driving and their gawking at sights familiar to us locals. I hate looking like a tourist so much so that I’ve even sort of lied. Not really, but sort of. Jack and I walk around Paris with our dog, Molly. (Only locals would have a dog out for a walk, right?) And when people stop to pet her or comment on her looks, I quietly smile and nod. I don’t say a word, because if I do, they’ll know I’m not a Parisienne. I let them believe I’m French. On purpose. See what I mean about hating to look like a tourist. It causes me to almost lie.

That’s what got me thinking. At church we speak of living in the reality of the Kingdom of God, that our citizenship is in heaven and this world is not our home. So in effect, we are all tourists. Passing through this foreign country called life and taking in as many sights and experiences as we can.

So is there something we can learn about living this exiled life of the Kingdom from these “annoying” tourists? I believe so.

One thing is that tourists, even long-term ones, are just that – tourists. They are only visiting; they do not intend to stay. They know their home is elsewhere and that when the vacation is over; they will head home, richer in experience and often with a greater appreciation for their homeland.

Oh, for the ability to keep that perspective as we walk through our daily life. We are here on earth for just a little time, and soon, we will be going home. Until then, we are tourists. The scriptures are our guidebook, Jesus is our tour guide, (he knows the best places to go and the places we should definitely avoid), and hopefully, we will stand out in a crowd of “locals” as different, foreign and other.

With you on the journey,


Written while living as an expat in Paris, 2005