As I was preparing to move to Israel-Palestine, lots of good-intentioned people told me what I should read. And we do indeed have a stack of books on the land, the politics, the history, the culture. But I have mostly let them sit on the shelves for now.

There was one book I knew I must have, one book that would speak to my soul, which would directly acknowledge the uneasiness and swirl of emotions I experienced as I was packing up my life to move to an unfamiliar place.

IMG_3596

Mother Diana introduced me to Shaun Tan’s The Arrival during a Continuing Ministerial Development residential. Its images of agonising farewells, disorientation in an unfamiliar culture, gradual reorientation, and then a happy reunion articulate far better than words could do how I am feeling and what I hope for.

The feeling of being tiny in a vast landscape. The loneliness. The homesickness. The experience of familiarity and strangeness all at once.

IMG_3602

The inability to communicate. The kindness of strangers.

IMG_3604

The blessing of new friendships. The gradual adaptation to the new place, the new life.

And then the arrival of loved ones, their initial disorientation. Followed by integration, a new normal.

There are no words in this beautiful book, which is why I love it so much. It allows me simply to feel. It reminds me that I am traveling a well-trodden path. It assures me that what I am feeling is not unusual, that these emotions are very real indeed. But it also gently guides my gaze forwards, to a time when my mind, my body, my soul, my heart will be more settled.

One thought on “the arrival

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s