There are certain smells that I love. Fresh baked cookies, a spring rain, and green chile season in Denver. I have come to love the smell of roasting green chile peppers. 20 years ago I didn’t get this obsession with roasted peppers; today the smell reminds me that my meals will be just a little spicier for the next year.
On August 21 I was reminded of another smell, one that had begun to fade just a bit. We had been invited over to Rita’s aunt and uncle’s home in Surrey, BC. It was Sunday mid-morning and we were about to be treated to brunch. I was especially excited for Miguel because he had never experienced a Canadian Mennonite brunch. I was expecting some Low German waffles, white sauce, and bacon. As we sat down a faintly familiar smell filled the room. A plate of famer’s sausage. Over the years Rita and I have looked for an American version of this delicacy, but is doesn’t exist in the USA. Farmer’s sausage is as unique to Canadian Mennonites as roasted green chile peppers are to people from the Southwest.
On that day as I enjoyed more farmer’s sausage than is appropriate, I was transported back to my youth. A few days later as Rita and I began the drive back to Denver I began to reflect on how my life had changed since moving to the USA in 1988. Neither of us expected to stay on this side of the border more than the three years it took to complete seminary. Now both of us have spent more time in the USA than in Canada. We have raised our boys and made friends. We have found a community and neighborhood to call home. This is where my wife is winning her battle with cancer. Down the street from our house is the church where I was ordained. None of this would have happened if we weren’t open to new possibilities.
Denver was never in my plans. Today I cannot imagine my life without Denver, DOOR, His Love Fellowship, or our neighbors. I still love and appreciate where I came from – those smells are important. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to experience new smells and come to appreciate them as my own.
This personal journey has also informed my faith journey. I am grateful for everything in my past that has informed my understanding of faith and life. I am equally grateful that I have come to enjoy other expressions of the Christian faith. It is only when we are open to a God who wants to do new things in our lives that we can begin to value the vastness and diversity of the Christian community.