As a general rule, cats are poorly treated in Cyprus. Maybe it's because they are an epidemic - literally hundreds of cats roam the streets here. The vast majority of them are skinny, diseased, and abused. They do not come to people, they are afraid when people approach because of past experiences, they are not even pleasant to look at. Except Big Schmuck. One girl here, Amber, loves cats. And she found Big Schmuk - a fat, white haired Persian who would let himself be petted, and even let us pick him up. Until one day... one day we went to visit Big Schmuck and he was different. He cowered at our approach, wouldn't let us come near; he was afraid. We knew that something had happened to him, something unkind, something to change the way he viewed people, something bad. It was so sad because we knew the before version of Big Schmuck - he's not just another Cypriot nasty cat - he was our friend. And I got to thinking about people - in one way or another we're all Big Schmucks. Unkind and bad experiences have molded us to be different than we were intended to be. The difference is some are so long ago that no one knows the "before" versions of us; sometimes not even ourselves. So I got to talking to God about it, and reflected on some of the places I've been hurt in my life that I've let shape who I am. The not for the better kind of shaping - the hardening, the wariness, the defenses. So as I thought about how I would be without all of these walls, I said to God "Wow... I was supposed to be amazing." He answered me about all peoples everywhere "Yeah, you all were." Our wounds and deep hurts and subsuquent defences were not His idea. They are the result of fallible hurt people redoing what has done unto them. They are the result of sin. We are not only the victims but the perpetraitors. Often not intentionally - I believe the majority of people do the best they can with what they have, we are all wounded and unable sometimes. We have all hurt one another when we've been in these places. The great news of the message of Jesus is restoration. No matter where you are or what brought you there, He wants you back. We don't have to live there forever. Here I am learning about recognizing wounds, forgiveness, and freedom... hope to learn. I want to love better than I do in the season and not just after it's done. I wish with hope the same for all of you. We can't escape being broken sometimes... the good news is that there is a Healer. For all peoples everywhere - yes - you too.
Pics this week are from last weekend's trip to Larnaca - we ate Mez-ay (? for spelling) which means a whole whack of food; couscous, beans, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, salad, fried cheese, yogurt, etc. etc. Then we did Meze ice cream for dessert - getting ourselves fattened up for India:)