Lilly is a beautiful English Setter, a hunting breed. I was wrong when I thought she could survive and getting used living within the walls of an apartment. Instead she loves going outdoor, smelling and chasing flies, birds and even leaves.
Our place is in one of the new suburbs of Tirana, uphill toward the mount. Every morning I take the same itenerary with her,
uphill toward green areas with a lot of birds and trees. We walk up to one point which is our resting place, and there I wait for the sun rise, while Lilly gazes behind the fence.
Usually it is very quite, few people running up or down hill, cars and probably a dog barking away. But today, for the first time after a year, our resting place had some other guests which caught Lilly’s attention and got her overexcited.
Sheeps. 5 sheeps gazing behind our fence, in a piece of land that is not that much green.
My first thoughts: It does not look like this is a rich pasture for the sheeps to feed themselves, and yet they are finding food and seem quite content. It reminded me of one of the lessons that the Lord impressed on me at our staff conference this past January.
“He leads me to the green pastures, to the fresh waters” Psalm 23
No matter how my circumstances may look like, this verse promisses that I am always led to rich pastures and fresh waters.
A great reminder after two difficult weeks.
The other thought: fences
The sheep on the other side did not show any sign of fear even while looking at the two strangers on the other side of the fence. Why? May be we did not look scary, but friendly, or because the fence between us gave her a sense of security.
Lilly, could stick her head between the bars, wishing she could jump on the other side and run after those sheeps, but she could not.
Fences. Fences protect. Fences keep clear boundaries. We do not like them, but they keep us safe.
In a fast changing society where we have become more open, actually naively open, and have lowered window shields, curtains and discrecy, and volunteerly have decided to live openly on social media, crossing over cultures, time tables, mentalities and traditions; the idea of fences sounds ridicoulous, arcaich, paranoich, outdated, hick. The irony of this is that we do not perceive the danger because living openly, without doors, bars and fences virtually, it does not make us feel the effect of it as it would have happened in real life.
For example, we can post thoughts on our statuses that we would dread to say openly face to face or in a group, but we do it virtually. Why? Because we do not perceive the face to face threat. And this has pushed us into a life style of no border, no fence, no common sense sometime and no cross culture awareness. We kind of asume that what is ok for me, should be ok for the rest.
I remember a funny incident when our first born came. She was born on a cold November day in Prishtina, Kosovo. And since she was so cute and we were the happiest parents in the world, we chose some of her pictures to put on our Christmas card that we sent that year. The card was a colazhe of some of her best pictures, her baby smile, her tiny hands and below her tiny bare feet. Then one of our friends wrote us back sharing a funny and embarrasing story from Japan, when while doing an outreach they put on a poster bare feet without knowing that that was an offense for the Japanese culture. That led to a whole conversation about culture, meanings and differences of traditions and cultures. While on another occaion, we had guests over who brought a cake. Where I am from, it is improper or I will better use the right term: shame (shame and honor culture) to open a gift while guests are present. It is also a shame to serve the guests with what they brought. So we serve what is in the house. As we took our guests, two honorable proffesors of the University of Prishtina, to go to theater, one of them joked with me:
Kejdis’ bride, listen. We expected in vain for you to serve us the cake we brought, but you did not even touch it.
It was that moment of realization that I had just broke a cultural tradition. We laughed and I said that I did not know, but next time I would be diligent to do my job better. A month later, our friends visit us again and as always they brought us a cake. Eagerly to serve them well, I cut the cake and served it. The professor did not seem happy, to my surprise.
“Kejdis’ bride, listen. We just came in and you are serving us the cake. Wait, there is time for the cake”
What I did not know was that by serving the cake at that time, I was actually telling them to leave. Culture is tricky 🙂
We all live in cultures and subcultures, and some of us even live cross culturally. While we do all like to enjoy the freedom and people not to question our pure motives, I have found wise and beneficial to be cautious about fences, fences that serve as bridges and protection, fences that communicate respect and love, sensitivity to the other, because when we step over those fences, unfortunately we find ourselves in a land with even higher fences that are even more difficult and challengign to overcome.
“An offended brother is like a city with iron fence” Proverbs
How can I live wisely in an open society where borders seem to have merged virtually, but are still in power in the daily life on how people live and approach life?