God is my Refugee.

Labour Day is not just a holiday for Canadians.

Despite being on this side of the border this September 7, I too am enjoying a day off like my working counterparts northbound.

After a good sleep-in this morning, I slowly began waking up with an internet surf untethered from a time limit.

As I did so, I slowly began delving into ideas written by other people.

Many insights I came across were Facebook formalities. Others were quirky and made me laugh out loud. Some I read a couple of times over. (It’s always so strange to me how much thinking can be done internally.)

Amidst this mental morning exercise, heaviness emerged.

After reading a refreshing article in the New York Times about the importance of quality time, my scrolling brought me to an article written by Michael Ignatieff, established author and former Liberal leader of Canada, entitled ‘The Refugee Crisis isn’t a ‘European Problem.”

You likely know it too:

Right now – as I’m typing to you – there is a crisis happening overseas.

As Mr. Ignatieff writes, “those of us outside Europe are watching the unbelievable images of the Keleti train station in Budapest, the corpse of a toddler washed up on a Turkish beach, the desperate Syrian families chancing their lives on the night trip to the Greek islands.”

Though I have indeed been seeing these pictures, as well as the daily flashing headlines and immediate news items surrounding this issue, this morning was the first time that I spent a focussed amount of energy going below their surface to get a greater grasp of the reality underneath – an activity long overdue.

…an activity which lead me to more pictures.

Many more.

Faces.

Bodies cramped together, waiting in limbo.

“Surely you are thirsty?” I posed inside my head to those people in the picture, bewildered that thirst was likely the very least of their worries at that moment.

Narratives started to emerge through this colourful mess of individuals, detailing why and how some of them had left home.

I watched videos of people – literally hundreds of them – clamouring to get on a train out of Budapest with arguably little knowledge of what would be at the other end. Just the hope of something safer.

The goosebumps on my arms as I read the captions; as I heard the wordless echoes of peoples’ voices.

Fire began to rise in me.

Back in May of this year, I took a 3-week trip to Europe after the end of my latest work contract at the CBC.

Hungary was my second destination for a week-long visit with my lovely friend Robin. She was studying documentary filmmaking in Budapest at the time.

A couple of days in, the two of us traveled to a deer farm three hours south of the city to do some shooting for her film.

The train departed from Keleti station.

I remember that day quite clearly.

It was a sunny weekday morning when we walked into the airy, arena-type space of the terminal. We didn’t have to wait long before boarding the train set for our destination.

When I found my reserved seat, I can remember looking out the window as I waited for it to start moving. The platform was quite empty at that hour. A few tourists like me wandering by, a few transit employees walking up and down checking the odd ticket. Even inside the car, it was almost silent.

The ride itself was breezy and calming.

When I listen to ‘Foolish’ by Alpine and ‘The Sea’ by Mø – two songs on my playlist of choice for the trip – I’m immediately transported back to that scene: the hum and feel of moving wheels below me while a sort of sultry heat came through the window, balanced by a perfect stream of wind.

Peace.

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I imagine it’s quite a different story for the thousands of people traveling from that same transit hub this past weekend.

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Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

As I’ve been processing what I’ve absorbed today, my mind has taken me to many places – not so much to conclusions, but through a maze of open-ended, half-baked ideas that I felt in my heart I needed to try to cement.

The first thought –

I am absolutely baffled that I’ve stood exactly where those people have been photographed. It’s so mind-boggling to remember such a scene of serenity inside Keleti station a mere four months ago and compare it to the unvarnished unrest that has been dominating that space this past weekend.

Another idea sparked from that reality –

Aside from the tangible disarray and desperation depicted above, perhaps that photo is a literal illustration of the anxiety harnessing the countries looking at it.

In his piece, Ignatieff says this of President Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Dilma Rousseff:

“Resettling refugees, they fear, will trigger an even greater exodus, and they don’t know how their teams could handle the chaos that would result.”

This fear, surely existing even before we saw the picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on the beach, is such a striking perception to me.

That idea that if we let more people into our countries, the result will be even MORE people coming into our countries, and how that frightens us…

That established idea that the human tsunami following the decision to say “yes” to thousands that have been displaced would be a natural disaster in itself.

It’s so crazy to think that human nature makes us so afraid of the upheaval of order, that we choose order over death. We will tolerate tragedy at the distant it’s at, as long as that means structure is kept within the borders we control.

Yet it’s bewildering to think that the ‘structure’ we are afraid of uprooting is manmade.

Strangely, I have found myself at various chapters of my thought process today actually empathizing with the leaders in charge of upholding that structure.

As my friend Karen pointed out in this regard, “It’s so easy to criticize when you don’t have to stand behind everyone’s well-being.”

“And when you are the leader of one set of lives, it’s like you’re mandated to put them first, even when there is already peace,” I thought back to her.

I keep picturing myself as Stephen Harper, tasked with maintaining that peace in Canada. How does one do that, while also responding to a humanitarian crisis? When can order be put aside for a moment, in order to help someone escape deathly circumstances?

“It legitimately turns into a balance scale of human lives.”

As I’ve been riding this mental roller coaster, something else that keeps replaying in my mind is this line from a biblical verse –

“God is my refuge.”

According to my Google search, ‘refuge’ means ‘a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble’ or ‘something providing shelter.’

One more ‘e’ however, and you’ve got the buzzword of international current affairs:

‘A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.’

Which brings me to this statement:

“God is my refugee.”

I’m truthfully not sure exactly how this fits into everything or where exactly this logic is going, but as I continue to piece my thoughts together, maybe one truth that emerges is that God is truly just as much the refugee as He is the refuge.

‘Ok, sure Kimberly,’ I said to myself as I first came to this conclusion. ‘Where is the hope in that, if the one who is providing safety and shelter from danger is also the one who needs it?’

But I think this is exactly it.

By saying ‘God is our refugee,’ we paint a picture of God as each person in the photograph above. It’s a statement that proves God is not an entity withheld on this side of the crisis, but as a being actually ingrained into the desperation.

Just as He is in us, so too is God IN the people who are crying out for our attention and help.

There is an almost sickening need for tragedy to re-orient ourselves into a position that allows us to give both. It’s like we have to be confronted with death before we fight for life.

Mr. Ignatieff finishes his own piece like so:

“If compassion won’t do it, maybe prudence and fear might. God help us if these Syrians do not forgive us our indifference.”

If we can immediately recognize the shared divinity of humanness that already exists between us and the million of Syrians seeking refuge, perhaps we can skip that step of waiting to be reminded of our own mortality before we’re prompted into decision-making or action.

These thoughts are big.

This situation is fiercely alive.

I continue to think.

Edge.

In July of summer past, I was on the other sides of the States.

I had taken a couple of weeks off work at the CBC to travel through the southwest with some friends from Belgium.

Them Flemish gals were on a one-month expedition through those parts, so after spending a few days in San Francisco by myself, I met up with them in Los Angeles to join in on a portion of their road trip.

In a little blue rental, we covered a lot of ground in a very short amount of time; mountainous ground, desert ground, prickly and rocky and grandiose ground that you’ve only ever seen on a calendar.

Of all the places we hit, however, the spot that took my breath the most was the Grand Canyon.

I could NOT stop clicking the camera shutter as we walked around the rim that afternoon.

The site of my own shoes hanging over a mile-long drop hardly sunk in as real. Each angle of the view brought a new perspective; the colours seemed to change every time we gazed over what surely had to be a painting.

Though a picture is worth one thousand words, I needed only 119 of them when I sought to catch the day in writing.

Here they are as I wrote them exactly one year ago; words that give me goosebumps, even now, and ones that perhaps need to be repeated, regardless of the thing in front of us –

“Today – we stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

And I cried.

Unbelievable hues extending farther than my sight.

Stone and rock beneath me weathered, yet eternally steadfast.

Air – a kind so intoxicating – brewing in the cracks before POURING over the rim.

All part of a masterpiece proclaiming the most brilliant reminder:

Between the ticking of our daily routines, outside of our conversations and decisions, and regardless of the storms in our heads – what makes us anxious, what we must do tomorrow, where we should go next –

There is something so much greater happening right NOW – independent from our influence and so beautifully and perfectly out of our control.

That, is grand.

Breathe in, friends! Refresh!”

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Start.

There once was a blog called “Why did the chicken cross the road?

There was also once a blog called “The Blueberry Danish.

The writer of these two literary troves: Kimberly Anne Ivany the First.

Back in 2010, the Maple Lodge Farms Show Team went on a cross-Canada adventure promoting chicken… Sounds absolutely cray, even to me as I type that out, but it seriously was thee best summer job in all the land; 5 of my fellow chicken mates and I put on free barbeques across this beautiful country of ours for a month, driving in a tractor trailer that morphed into a kitchen. Oh yes.

A few months later, I got on a plane to Denmark to study TV journalism for a semester abroad.

You probably have a hunch (based on my May trip, and previously written odes to that country) that Daneland is my Heartland. I really love that I can re-live many a day I spent there by re-reading the thoughts and adventures of a young Kimberly in 2011 Europe.

After those two significant chapters in my life, however, I stopped using a dot com place to document lived magic.

While Facebook has been a beaut for giving me an alternate space to do so, I’ve been feeling that it’s time to recreate a permanent place for my thoughts; not a blog confined by a themed time frame, but one that catalogues my adventures through life segments and border-crossings, existing whether I be in New York City, or Toronto, or hiking in Mongolia. (You never know.)

Thusly! Here you have it: The Ivany Times, if you will.

When I began to think of a Kimberly-encapsulating title for this thang, the word ‘tale’ came to mind, which you surely have already read on the header above.

This english word is defined as ‘a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted.’

Indeed, I am excited to shape this website into a collection of real experiences, pieced together with the thoughts and musings that each one sparks in my head.

‘Tale’ (pronounced ‘TAY-leh’) is also the Danish word meaning ‘Speak.’

As I’ve experienced the things along the path from kid, to adolescent, to young adult, I know with such certainty that I am a being created to express.

I think we, as humans, are all designed to express in some capacity. Sometimes it’s through sport, other times it’s acting on a stage, or it may be by mixing ingredients to make something new in the kitchen. We are programmed to create!

In my case, my need to express is illuminated by my desire to tell stories. Whether it be recounting them into the keyboard or talking to someone willing to listen, I have an engrained eagerness to communicate narratives – full and true ones that perhaps make you look at something differently.

Thus, the title scribed above is dual purpose, which – bonus – makes me smile with delight since the word that made the cut is also Dansk.

You probably also noticed something else up there on that header bar; an interesting tagline that may have raised your eyebrow:

“And so, here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.”

That line is a direct quote, taken from chapter 3 of a book in the Bible called ‘Ephesians.’

The speaker is a dude named Paul, who, after originally fighting against God by putting Christians in jail, became one of the most well-known ministers way back in them biblical days.

The flip of this man’s life calling came after a very powerful and tangible prompting from God.

With a “blinding flash of light,” God told Paul to preach on His behalf by explaining the point of God’s presence in the world. In old school terms, this was the moment when Paul became an ‘apostle’ or ‘an important early Christian teacher.’

Alright, ma people.

For a very long time, I have been afraid to tell anyone beyond my family and circle of friends at church that I am a Christian.

After pressing ‘delete’ a million times as I try to write the next sentence, I think the explanation as to why that fear exists deserves a post all its own… it stems from me not wanting to be associated with the widely-adopted, negative notion of what ‘the church’ is and what ‘the church’ believes, not wanting to step onto controversial ground with someone, my often consuming desire to be liked… the list likely goes on.

While those reasons are jumping off the screen and taunting me with wild force right now, I no longer have the energy to fight them.

While I would like to write down, with luscious abandon, that this is because those reasons have lost their grip on me, my transparency here is rather due to the fact that I feel like I’m being nudged to finally express in full who I am and what that means, regardless of my anxious wrestle, in pursuit of bold and billowing truth.

The purpose of this blog is to document my adventure tales – the many untold stories I’ve got in me from the past and present.

But I also want to use the words forthcoming to illustrate the beautifully tangible ways God is working in my life. I wish to express to you the influence of a spiritual force that MAKES my experiences come alive.

Amazingly, and rather inexplicably, I feel like my life is slowly, but very surely starting to encompass something of that centuries-old narrative.

Perhaps you, reader there, believe in God as well. Maybe you feel there’s something greater, but don’t quite know how to name it. Maybe you don’t believe in anything at all.

Despite these inevitable spiritual differences among humans, I think there is a piece of wisdom that all eyes on this post can attest to:

Proclaiming what is real will launch you into freedom.

Conceivably, you may be able to relate to a time when you felt the weight of something false… a time when you felt the need to go against that cliche command to ‘just be yourself’ in order to fit in… to make someone like you… to escape the feeling of vulnerability.

Let me tell you straight up that me telling you I am a Christian right now is a huge step into a vulnerable space. But at the same time, a very FREEING space that may open up a channel for something marvellous.

Look at what happens when you rock your favourite romper, even though everyone else rolls their eyes at it.

When you unleash a painful story from the past that has been imprisoning you for so long.

When you finally tell that person that you love them – male or female.

Feeling like I can’t write or tell stories is one of the ways that makes me feel suppressed; a situation that silences my joy.

But perhaps an even bigger circumstance that cancels my elation is when I feel afraid to exemplify how much light I have in me, due to the very fact that God is woven into my essence.

HA! But did I actually just say that? Did I actually write those words out loud, regardless of what you might be thinking about them?

Totally did.

I ain’t gonna press delete.

It’s about time I embrace the vulnerability that accompanies being Kimberly Ivany, in hopes that the words I am inspired to write and freely express will be as equally inspiring for you – in big and beautiful ways that I cannot predict.

I feel – I HOPE – that something radical is on the brink.

In that same chapter in Ephesians, in regards to his sudden calling to tell people about what the Man Upstairs is up to, Paul says this:

“This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.”

He continues –

“As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ … My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.”

Here I am, back on the blog: Kimberly Anne Ivany the First, the girl who is absolutely petrified to tell you about the ramifications of her faith.

Time to write.