I felt very brave as I said goodbye to my sister-in-law and went through passport control alone. I had travelled without companions before, but always flying north to familiar lands. I had travelled to new pastures too, but with others.
This time I was going to fly right around the world, south and east, to a land of volcanoes and red flowering trees, of flightless birds and people who wear black shirts with white sprays of fern on their chests.
A land I know little about. A land I had never dreamt I would see or visit. And yet I now had family there and for their sake and mine, I climbed on a plane and crossed the bottom of the world to spend Christmas in this exciting place.
To start with, it all seemed unreal as if I was in a bubble. Weather patterns, calm traffic, beaches, mountains, parks and forests. The experiences came at me one after the other. And as I acclimatized and recovered from jet lag I began to realise I was here.
Everything was new. I had only once visited a place so different to my home, when we had flown west to visit Nashville and the Carolinas. But here I was, east of all that was familiar.
And so we were the first to enter 2019.
How often had I sat, eating my lunch on New Year’s Eve, having spent the morning looking back at the closing year and thanking God for all that had passed, and watched this land of fire celebrate their New Year with fireworks, as we, at home, still had eleven hours to go?
And here, I was myself, on a mild summer’s night, filming those same fireworks with a cluster of folk who had walked to the corner of the street to watch the display across the bay.
While the rest of the world counted down to the end of the previous year.
Perhaps it was that – the fact that we were in 2019 whilst everyone else was still in 2018 that made me realise in a new way the phenomenon of time.
Even more than the distance I had flown or the unfamiliarity of the place or that, apart from family, I knew no-one; the fact that we were living in a new year whilst everyone else whom I call family or friend was still in last year filled me with unexpected emotions. Strange, uncomfortable feelings I could not identify.
What is time that it affects us so?
Slowly, slowly they caught up. One by one, each land followed us into the New Year. By the time family at home joined us we had driven a hundred kilometres or more into the country and were picnicking in a small rural village at the foot of the mountains.
I was surprised at my relief when the world caught up, and everyone I know was at last in the same year with us.
Isn’t the mind fascinating? And how strange is the concept of time? It’s something our minds grasp fleetingly and then the understanding flits away, leaving us struggling to comprehend it. A day flashes by for some and drags for others. Part of the world moves into the time span of a New Year whilst the rest lags behind, only catching up as our home spins in space.
What a God we worship who placed us on a revolving planet and gave us time and a desire to understand!
I am in awe of Him.
What about you?