I've been receiving a number of heartfelt greetings since my return from New York. It's lovely to be home, and it's amazing the things I missed. They're not the fancy things: it's having breakfast in my PJs (not in a hotel restaurant), making a full pot of coffee or tea, having proper cutlery (single-use plastics are a scourge on society), a bathtub, my own pillow, and of course an abundance of happy-puppy dog snuggles (with resultant paw prints and fur).
Home. It's good to be home.
But - and we discussed this as delegates - home feels a little bit smaller, a little bit different after the UN experience. It's all the same, but it's also not the same.
The reality is that the change is in us: we have changed, and we have been changed. We have been engaging with people from around the world as we commit to one another and to God to work even more passionately towards gender equality and justice. We have become friends and sisters with people from places we couldn't even find on a map 2 weeks ago. We have heard stories of challenges in those places, stories of good ministry in those places, stories of God's power prevailing over all evil in those places. We have shared laughter, and tears, and hugs, and love. We have prayed, and praised, and worshiped.
We did not have a vacation; we grappled with some of the most difficult challenges the world is facing: we discussed them openly and bravely (even when our voices trembled). We connected with one another with great trust and love and faith; we held one another up as we were held; we opened ourselves up to new joys and new possibilities as we live into the body of Christ.
We were offered a bigger, broader perspective - not in a way that is meant to keep us segregated from our small home lives, but rather to enhance it, to enrich it, to help us see and celebrate the astonishing in the ordinary. For that is where we see our God: in the everyday realities where dignity is upheld, where justice is sought, where peace is shared.
Our worlds have gotten a little bit bigger. Our networks have extended. Our knowledge has increased. So coming home feels a little different.
Because coming home does not mean going back to who we were before this experience. Instead, it means bringing home the amazing truth of the bigger world. It means opening the eyes and ears and hearts of those around us, and sharing the energy around making the world a better place.
So I am grateful for every "welcome home!" I receive. It means that I am cared for and appreciated in the here and the now. It also means that those who are caring for and with me are aware that I have come home well - well-inspired, well-enthused, well-committed. I have come home well ready to continue to strive for the kingdom of God.