Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dual citizenship

The Finns are here...along with Beve's non-Finn father.  Actually, Beve's older brother isn't either, but after living in Finland for 27 years, he seems Finnish to us.  Except that he also seems like the quintessential American.  Big Brother (and I mean that literally--both older and much larger than Beve) speaks in meters, Euros and hockey, but he also keeps track of WSU athletics, knows the Seattle Mariners well enough to be able to explain to me the differences between their home and away jerseys (Home say Mariners, away say Seattle...in case you're interested).  Big Bro likes burma-shave slogans, can repeat dozens of them at a time, (just a sec, I'll ask him for an example: "Don't try passing on a slope unless you have a parascope!";  "If you find hugging is your sport, trade your car for a davenport!"-- courtesy of Beve).  After all these years in Finland, R says he still isn't fluent in Finnish, but his wife says he does pretty well.  They don't speak Finnish to each other, though, because she is fluent in English.  She told me this is because English is a much easier language than Finnish.  And having seen it written many times, I can well attest to this.  I'm telling you some of those Finnish words are about half a paragraph long, and one must pronounce every single word. I can count to ten in Finnish and say "I love you," (mina rakistan, I think.), both of which have served me well.  Here's how:

Many years ago when I was traveling around Europe with my friend, SKC, we were stopped on a street in Konstanz, Germany by some 'young punks' (as Grampie would call them).  These boys tried to engage us in conversation, first in German, which we both had studied in high school and college, but we weren't interested in going to a bar with them so we pretended ignorance.  Then they tried English, and again, we pretended not to understand.  Finally, we began reciting the Finnish numbers we'd just learned from her cousins in Finland, imbued them with such inflections that it sounded like we were having a conversation, and raised our voices to say "Mina rakistan!" Shaking their heads, the young punks walked away, and we felt incredibly proud of our facility with languages. 

Anyway, Beve's brother, R, is--for all intents and purposes--a citizen of two countries.  He has all the benefits of the country he's called home over the last quarter century, but carries the passport of the country of his birth, half a world away from his life and immediate family.  And even his daughters, who were not born here, and have only visited for weeks at a time over the last 25 years, have all the rights and privileges of this nation.  By virtue of who their father is.

Just like all of us who are heirs of Christ. Because of who our Father is, we are dual-citizens, when it comes right down to it.  Sure, we're citizens of some nation or other on this earth.  We have privileges and responsibilities accordingly.  The rights to 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness', if Americans.  But there's that other country, the one none of us have ever seen, the one that all of creation awaits and leans toward.  And that citizenship takes precedence.  The privileges are myriad--forgiveness, grace, mercy, joy, peace.  All of the privileges of favored heirs, in fact.  But the responsibilities also true--"Whatever you do...; live your life worthy...; it's to freedom You have been called...; Be Holy as I am Holy, says the Lord."  Just to name a few.

When it comes right down to it, if we give precedence to the Kingdom-passport we carry, if we with that passport in our pockets, like a sharp nail reminding us of the nails that pierced Him, we will be the best of citizens on earth as well. 

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