“What if we could embrace the gypsy within and accept- celebrate even- the journeying, the non-arrival of life.”
Something about the Roma people I met in Central Europe still haunts me today.
I think it was the way their eyes danced like shimmering lights against the dim and dusty curtain behind them. Their histories- ridden with rejection. Brokenness cracked through to every generation- poverty, abuse, and addiction crumbling their villages like an earthquake.
Known by most of us as gypsies, they are considered outsiders in their own country. Unwanted and shunned, ignored and unwelcomed. Discrimination continues to this present day, making most of them permanent travelers with temporary settlements.
What I didn’t know then was how much this week in their Croatia camps would brand itself upon my heart begging for further reflection.
What was it about these gypsy people? Were their piercing eyes telling me a story I needed to embed in my spirit?
Many people know gypsies for their dancing. It is said of their dancing style that “both onlooker and performer experience the lamentations and celebrations of Roma life.”
Lamentation and celebration.
There’s an uneasiness that exists within me when I think about the carrying the contrast of both of these two things in my world. Mostly, I feel like I’m being jostled between two extremes on a screeching, rickety roller-coaster, more than waltzing like a gypsy dancer free to engage with sorrow and joy.
But I’m wondering if a refusal to embrace all of life, all the chapters of our story, all the parts of the way God made us puts us further from the fullness of life He intended for us to know. Instead of incorporating rejection and disappointment into a rhythmic dance, we let them redefine us daily.
I’m often at war with the layers I see in my own heart. It seems impossible to reconcile the pieces into a cohesive picture, let alone bold and unabashed movements.
How could it be that I’m a typical good girl, but also a rebel taking steps toward daring dreams rising within me?
How could it be that I can’t stand missing out, but I also sense a call to live differently, perhaps skirting more to the edges and looking to some as an outsider?
How could it be that I pray for courage, recommit myself to a life of crazy faith again and again, yet I shun the work, the patience, the mystery, the spiritual battle that goes along with this daunting path?
Need I mention the ugly parts I conceal behind closed doors – my spirited emotions, the way setbacks send me spiraling into depression, and the constant failure that follows me through my week. Instead of weaving my laments into this impassioned dance called my life, I lose myself and perspective.
I’m too dizzy to dance.
And then there’s my history set amidst its own kind of dusty backdrop, obviously not as a severe as my Roma friends, but unspeakable pain and heartache present nonetheless. If I’m not careful I close the book there, forgetting the countless quiet celebrations that dot every page like vast constellations in the night sky reminding me of God’s faithful presence and love.
Perhaps, what I saw in the eyes of the Roma people that week were the souls of fellow pilgrims, transients in this world, also learning to travel with a wild God.
A God who invites us all to dance amidst the seeming contrasts and contradictions of our own stories, perceiving our fragmented pieces and fissured hearts as evidence of the gypsy within us dying to move their feet and raise their arms even though we haven’t arrived yet…
“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.” Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-14
It is my heart and passion to inspire us to come alive to our own adventure with God. Once a month, I send out a more personal note to you. Stories to inspire you to take tiny risks, try new things, and step into the unknown with God. I’ll also include my favorite resources and links, plus other fun surprises + shop discounts! The first one of 2018 is going out the 1st of February and I’m so excited to send it out. You can sign up here.