Today my book releases! Curious Faith is finally out in the world for all to see, and this long road I’ve been on to write and publish a book is a reality!
I have all the feelings about the book finally coming out, but all those feelings have to sit tight just a little because as you read this I’ll be on a plane returning home from China. Yes, CHINA!
Today, I won’t be running into a local bookstore to find it on the shelf, or peeking at online retailers to see if you’re buying it…because this curious faith of mine has taken me clear across the globe to celebrate something else entirely!
And that’s just the way it seems to go… that our curious faith in God just might take us somewhere entirely different than where we may have imagined ourselves to be.
I’m coming home from China today, and if I didn’t know it before I wrote the pages you’ll hopefully be holding in your hand soon (ORDER YOUR COPY of CURIOUS FAITH HERE), I sure know it now more than ever. A curious faith is a mobile one indeed and the more I live with one, the more I see God all around me in places I wasn’t expecting or looking.
I didn’t have the first clue what to expect on this trip, so I guess I came to China with very little expectation all together. I didn’t bring with me a set of preconceived notions on what the country would be like, or what my brother’s wedding would be like. I just had no idea about any of it, but I remained curious to see it all unfold.
The cities in China are large and insanely crowded. And I don’t understand a single word anyone says or any signs on the streets either. I’ve eaten all sorts of out-of-the-ordinary things (shrimp with shells on, beef cartilage, fatty pork, and fish that stared back at me) …some I liked, and some I can now say I’ve done and will never do again.
We have walked around and explored in art villages and shopping districts. (I bought this beautiful original painting shown below with the artist for about $35 USD!)
Without my very savvy new sister-in-law, I’m fairly certain that moving a group of 11 people around the city would have been nothing less than disasterous! But we have done it, and as of Saturday evening, the reason we came to this foreign land has been realized.
My brother is married now to Wang Mei Xin. You can call her Angel. It’s what we all call her. And I think in so many ways, maybe she just is one for our family.
Before we rode an airplane for 20 plus hours to get here, my friend Tsh told me how to say “cold water” in Chinese and Nickelodeon taught me how to say “Ni Hao” (“hello”…thank you for that Kai Lan.) Other than those couple of phrases, I knew nothing in this foreign language.
Funny how some language transcends all the words though.
I’ve found that to be true this week of love and family bonds. The language barrier is frustrating, especially when I can tell that I’d have the most fun chatting with my new sister-in-law’s sisters, but still somehow, we laugh over not knowing a word the other is saying.
It’s angels that remind us of a love that needs no language. And I’m sure the one that has joined my family has done just that.
My entire family packed into a motorcade yesterday to drive a little over an hour outside of PingXiang (a city of nearly 1 million people) to pick up Angel in the tiny mountain village where she grew up.
It was a few old buildings clustered along the side of the road, and when we arrived, there was no mistaking we were in the right place.
Villagers lined the streets waving and smiling and playing instruments I hadn’t seen before. They stood holding large red flags with the name “Lane” painted carefully on the sides to honor my brother and the name of my family that was now a part of their family too.
All eleven of us, pale with wide blue eyes, exited the cars and were in our own right a sight to see…out of place in so many ways, but entering into this culture to honor the woman and to embrace all that she is as she joins our family now.
Hundreds of firecrackers lined the streets and loudly exploded as we walked down the road towards Angel’s house. Smoke filled the air and the twang of Asian horns and cymbals played celebratory notes as the entire village walked together with us to go pick up the bride.
Every few steps we paused to allow the next row of firecrackers to be lit along the way…we couldn’t outstep the cracking and popping announcing our arrival, and so we waited.
In fancy high heels and cocktail dresses, we stepped through gravel and mud to enter Angel’s modest concrete home.
Her mother stood waiting to welcome us in a red tulle dress covered by a black pea coat. Standing alongside her were Angel’s beautiful sisters in cream tulle bridesmaids dresses with muddied hemlines.
It was cold inside and the dim light hanging in the entrance barely illuminated the worn paint on the concrete walls as dozens of people followed us into the small bedroom in the back where Angel waited.
She looked like a princess. A vision in white lace and a rhinestone tiara that seemed in complete juxtaposition to the simple room with chipping paint where she stood.
My brother walked through the doorway and I had to push myself past the crowd of people to see the moment he first beheld his bride.
And there it was…a look that needed no language, a feeling that transcended illegible Chinese characters, an understanding that said “all of this is who you are, and I enter into it with you forever.”
We all did. With tears in our eyes, walking through motions and streets that felt as if I was outside of my body watching it all, we all entered in. In curiosity and acceptance and love, we didn’t need to understand all of the words her mother said as she grabbed our hands and bowed. We didn’t need to understand her sister’s as they hugged our arms and smiled together with us. As they served us a tray of snacks and brought steaming water with tiny leaves of tea floating on top, we knew that the language we all spoke was somehow beyond words, and it said “I welcome you, I invite you, I honor you, and we are in this together.”
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
I don’t know a word that was said for most of the day yesterday, but I watched my brother carry his bride, as Chinese tradition would have it, through the streets of her village and to the motorcade waiting on the street. I watched her father stand as another man, one he loves, carried his daughter away from her home, and maybe even away from her country.
I sat through a ceremony that while I’m sure made no mention of understanding mysteries or knowledge or faith, most certainly made mention of love.
And for all the excesses of red fabric, and shouting game-show-like host of the ceremony…for the toasting and tears, the bubbles and indoor pyrotechnics sparking to the soundtrack of Endless Love, I didn’t need the words to understand.
I don’t need to understand the tongues of men or of my new sister Angel’s native language, to speak and to comprehend the events of my brother’s wedding yesterday.
And the more I live and learn and walk in this curious faith…that has just taken me across continents, and language barriers, and cultural divides, I continue to find that it all begins and ends in a love so great, I need not understand so much as allow myself to enter in.
I need not understand, so much as allow myself to enter in.
“Let us not love in word or in talk, but in deed and in truth.”- 1 John 3:18