“I’m trying to remember something I couldn’t possibly know. I am trying, as i was two days ago in Lithuania, to move by feel, to know when I was close to where they had been…”
As part of a poem goes, from a book of poetry about Lithuania I took into Lithuania to journal in.
I had bused into the capital city – Vilnius, gotten lost, and it had started raining. Here I was, unprepared for the rain I hadn’t even considered a possibility, walking into a city i knew very little about. You see, even tho God had brought me there I had purposely not looked too much into its history. I went in intentionally blind, because I was curious what God was bringing me too. And still… a week after, I’m still at a loss, like I am blind, to a one sentence answer to “How was Lithuania”. I have a book full of things God spoke.
I have a folder full of photos of beautiful places and buildings. I had conversations with lovely people, and learned a lot about life and possibilities. But its almost numb… a quiet echo of someone screaming in a tunnel a kilometre away.
But lets attempt retracing some steps shall we?
It was before 10am, and I was walking aimlessly down streets in the moist onset of drizzle. I would follow a man with an umbrella, thinking he would lead me to shelter or a free WiFi haven like the Nordic nations had, that I had already become accustomed to expecting. Or i would a shop in the corner of my eye with lettering I had seldom seen before. Different dots, and an order of consonants that made me curious about how it would sound. I somehow found a sign that pointed me towards a museum.
The cool thing about museums is… they usually have roofs. AND they teach you a ton about the surrounding city. (Unless you are in Oslo and you don’t speak Norwegian, or you are in Cape Town and you don’t go with the cool wise cracking dread locked youngster) I excitedly followed the signs. First the wrong way to a beautiful park, and the right way to a sign that said for the next two days it was closed. A little more soggy and I decided to seek shelter in a cafe with WiFi and hope that i could point at a picture of a coffee and just drink whatever I was handed.
Now, a funny thing about me that I learned in stark contrast during my time in South Africa. I am violently shy and gutless when I don’t have to be bold. When leading teams.. that’s fine. When in cultures I know the consequences of my actions… fine. But if I’m in an unknown place, and i dont physically NEED to communicate with anyone… I won’t (this would be seen 24 hours later when i stood outside a restaurant for 30 minutes waiting for the rain to stop instead of just walking in and sitting down.)
I must have past 5 cafes before I walked in and said almost in broken english. “Coffee” and in perfect english she asked back? “What sort” – As no one out of Australia or Amsterdam knows what a flat white is, i got a latte and sat at the front window, got all my journal and pens out and put in my earphones.
I started just writing. Some were mini poems, some were statements, some, I felt, were directly from God over this place, some were just Jeremy-esque observations which later would be endorsed by others.
“There is much Hope. An essence in the air of the goodness found is the deepest soil, soil that needs digging into, searching for, re planted in, shared stories from….”
“History is important, but Jesus was resurrected”
Or i felt to underline things.
“Say good bye to the whiteness of light, the dead no longer care what they wear…”
Or chronicle things
“A wet abandoned set of chairs outside of a warm and inviting cafe, a meeting place of injected enrgy and real intimacy. What a contrast of concrete and flowers.”
I began thinking about Kiev and Amsterdam. Both cities are so deeply old and historic. Kiev has that ex-soviet flavour that Vilnius has – the grey that the people are sick of, and try disguising it with flowers, or in Kiev it was ribbons and colourful sashes on the buildings. But like Amsterdam, the signage was helpful, the bikes and walking and public transport was amazing.
After journalling for a bit longer I set out to to find my hostel via as many churches as I could. As I walked past these huge churches that seemed to be built on ever street corner I was also surprised at how much graffiti was scrawled on these hundred year walls. Some were you normal untalented jerks, but some were quite political and passionate. referring to democracy, or putin, or Vilnius used to have space and now there is none, or that now Vilnius has moved out into the world. (both of which were confirmed by my russian friend.)
I found a nice view, got lost again, my battery ran out and then finally I found my amazing hostel. The computers weren’t working so i got to sit and just chat with the lady behind the counter. A lithuanian, she had studied anthropology and art culture, but admitted that neither would get her a job.
After waking up my Russian friend in my room for four days I headed out again, to find some food and look at some more cool stuff.
I wandered even more, aimlessly looking at the beauty and the graffiti, taking some photos and then getting stuck outside this restaurant. There was no one going in the restaurant, so I convinced myself it must only be open for certain groups. So i stood outside next to this similarly stranded group of kids for a good twenty minutes before I just walked straight in and confusedly asked if they were serving dinner, which wasn’t received as that. We confusedly tried to understand each other and then they handed me a menu and I ate fish and had an amazing IPA and read about inter cultural communication some more.
After which i returned home to an open fire, more IPA and more journalling.
There was a lot about fighting for destiny, Different shoes to walk in, dancing, cheeky grins, redemption… and it was at that stage i started using more colours, and writing all different places in the poetry journal book. I must have looked a little strange, but at that stage I was too into what i was doing. Journalling, getting Gods heart for the place and processing what i had seen that day. I feel asleep looking forward to meeting the two I had emailed three years prior to get this journy started.
wandering. the photos. the streets. the people. the temperature. the oldness. the shabbiness, the graffiti. the river.
the failing battery the cool lady at the desk.