Monday, September 24, 2012

Finding holiness in the mundane

Despite the fact that I've been in Hong Kong for almost two months, there's still so much I don't know about the neighborhood around my flat. True to my character, I've fallen into a routine that generally doesn't deviate much from day to day. I go to work the same way every day, I go to the same stores to pick up food or other essentials. In a volunteer position that is constantly changing, where each work day is only predictable in its inherent unpredictability, I seek constants where I can. 

It's my day off, so this afternoon I thought I'd try something different. I decided to venture to a grocery store I'd heard about that I was told was "just up the hill." (Side note: everything in Hong Kong is "just up the hill" so one never really knows what that means.) I looked up the location on Google Maps and was informed it was only 1km away from home. Right then, I thought, no problem. So off I went, with my shopping bag and some cash. (Another side note: if you're reading my blog in the hope of vicariously experiencing some sort of exotic adventure, I'd advise you to check out some of my fellow YASCers' blogs to the right hand side of this paragraph. This is a pretty boring post; it really is just some commentary about a mundane trip to the grocery store!)

As soon as I got downstairs, I felt a few light drops of rain. Also true to my character, I forged ahead without my umbrella. I started out on a road I walk every day. Then I veered off in the direction I knew I needed to go. After the third turn, I encountered an intersection I haven't ever seen before. Roads are not marked in Hong Kong the same way they are in Kentucky and for all those back home, let me say that this particular intersection would make Spaghetti Junction look as simple as a child's wooden figure eight railroad track. I stood on top of a foot bridge for a while, sweating from the humidity and trying to decide which way to go without a map. The rain was still falling lightly, so I didn't want to get too far off the familiar path. In a fit of indecision, I descended the stairs from the footbridge and went another way. After encountering a few dead ends, I returned to the footbridge, still unsure of my location relative to the illusive grocery store. Still I hesitated to move forward, just standing there trying to decide what to do. At length, I took three more steps, and I suddenly saw the grocery store sign in the distance.

If you're still reading, you may be wondering why I wasted the last few minutes of your life imparting a story about wandering around Hong Kong on a Monday afternoon. I have a point, I promise. As the grocery store came into view, I was struck by the analogy formed by the journey. How often does indecision, fear, exhaustion, or confusion keep me from finding and having good things in my life? When I'm willing to take those three extra steps in faith, without being sure of the outcome, I'm usually pleasantly surprised by what happens next. Christians are quick to quote Jeremiah 29:11 as reassurance of the good things God has in store, but I wonder how often I am able to undermine potential blessings with my own hesitation to move forward?

Again, you may be thinking that finding deep, philosophical meaning in a trip to the grocery store is quite a stretch. Maybe it is. But as I wandered up and down every aisle, just like my grandpa taught me when I was a kid, I found something holy about getting where I was going today.

Fish waiting to be purchased (and eaten) at the grocery store.
Sorry I don't have more pics to share today!

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