This word has left our lips more than any other during our final days here. We’ve had to say our goodbyes to one another, to the friends and acquaintances we’ve made over the past month, to the lookouts where we watched the sun rise over the mountains or the Mediterranean proudly show off its many hues. But, most importantly, we’ve spent time saying goodbye to the notion that the way we learned to live and experience at EDGE needs to end when the last plane lands.
During our final community meal together, we were asked to reflect on how we would define EDGE project for those back home. Some called it a ‘spiritual hospital;” a place where healing and restoration could take place in the heart because, it was allowed the time and space to do so. Others said EDGE was a “training ground” in learning how to make living in love and community a lifestyle fit for any context. No matter the precise definition given, we all agreed that the story we had lived out at EDGE had been a good one, and that it’d keep on going after we left.
We believed this because living the EDGE way had tangible results on the lives of others we’d never have met otherwise. A Boston native, who now lives in Altea, had all of EDGE gather around on our final art night to tell us how surprised and inspired he was that, despite being a group of young Americans, we lived with a communal humility and generosity that transcended all of the negative cultural assumptions. Neighbors of El Diseño, EDGE’s now fully restored art gallery, were shocked to discover that over a dozen university students from another country would come all this way to do things as tedious and mundane as paint walls and haul moving boxes down the steep cobblestone steps. The owner of our favorite café literally jumped for joy as one of our own gave him a painting she had made for him and his soon-to-be wife. The world may not understand why we would come to Spain just to eat or write or paint or take photos, but until this final week, with the fruit of our labor shining the sunlight, I think many of us didn’t understand either.
A final visit to the church in Calpe, where we had established many good connections with people fervently excited about our ministry, confirmed the belief that we had not only touched the lives of the unreached but that we had made lasting impacts on the few believers who live in the spiritual desert of Spain. Our returning attendance at the church, as well as our arts outreach in old town Altea, was an encouragement to them; it showed that we too, though young and from foreign soil, were equally committed to running the race of life with the same faith and conviction they had.
As the race takes another turn and we leave Altea, we must say goodbye. But we do so with the belief that our goodbyes are really just an invitation for next summer’s group of EDGE participants to pick up where we left off.
It is for you, EDGE 2016, I pray next.
I pray that all of those who witnessed us, spoke with us, and felt any sadness over our departure, will see you and be reminded of our love for them. May you re-establish connections with believers. Encourage them, for these are the ones doing the heaviest lifting in Spain. And may you be changed in the process. May you see all that you are in Christ. Be inspired again. Create. Share with others. And say your goodbyes at the end of next summer with the belief that Thy will, and not yours, has been done in Altea once again.
Photo by Ian McIlvoy