If you are a friend of mine of Facebook or follow me on Instagram you will know that I was hosting my niece Mollie and her boyfriend last week. For part of the week I played tour guide and showed them the sights of the Bay Area. It was an interesting moment for me. I have been here six and a half years now and have become used to the beauty of our scenery, and the things one can do in this part of the world.
Going around with Mollie and Jamie, I got to see things again through fresh eyes. It was lovely to have my breath taken away by Redwoods as I gazed up at them beside Mollie. It was wonderful to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge and be reminded just how amazing this piece of engineering is and how lovely the views are. It was great to kayak with otters in Elkhorn Slough and have myself be calmed by listening to the birds chatter. Mollie and Jamie had a little difficulty getting their oar strokes straight, but after a while they settled into a rhythm also.
As I looked at California through fresh eyes, I also saw myself in a new light. I am the Uncle Matthew that Mollie has always known, but I have grown and changed over the years. I have some American attitudes that live alongside my English ones. I have a home here, and roots, and a community I care deeply about. I have had some difficult moments also. But one of the things I really noticed was growth.
Growth is so incremental that we rarely notice it. I wonder if you have someone or somewhere that you revisit from time to time and notice the same thing - that you have changed and grown. When I sit in pastoral conversation with some of you I believe that one of my jobs is to notice the growth that you may not be noticing yourself.
I invite you to look at the world with fresh eyes this week. Perhaps go visit, or talk on the phone with someone you love but don’t see that often and see how they, and you, have grown.
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.