Anyone who is familiar with Dr Who, in any of its many incarnations, will know the Tardis. The amazing quality of the Tardis is that despite its outward appearance as a typical British telephone box, its interior capacity is enormous.
The month I spent on Nauru I describe as being compacted. Just as a wrecking yard will reduce a car to a metre cube of crushed metal in minutes, so my time on Nauru was as if a whole year of experience was compacted into 4 weeks. During those 4 weeks there was very little time spent alone – even our accommodation was in shared rooms of up to 9 people. (Imagine – 9 women and only one bathroom!) Each day brought intensity in terms of emotions, shifts, weather, and responsibilities.
Although I have returned home seemingly the same person I was when I left, like the Tardis my internal capacity is far greater than my outward appearance. I feel enlarged by the experience, full to overflowing. I carry with me the compactness of the last month, not as a weight, but as a change in who I am.
We often speak of having to unpack experiences, to be able to tease out of them the truths to learn, the things that need to be changed. From this experience there will be a lot of unpacking to do. Unpacking emotions – already there is grieving for the men I left behind, who I could only help for such a short time, who so wanted me to stay. (I felt I needed to make a choice between the community of people I work with in Canberra and the community of people at Topside on Nauru.) Unpacking the things I enjoyed – I loved being back in the classroom again and realised afresh that I’m a very good teacher. (Does that mean I’m in the wrong job now or does it mean that I need to explore ways in which I can teach more in my current situation?)
There is a verse in Ephesians, 3:19, where Paul speaks of being filled to the measure of all the fullness of Christ. I have tried to imagine what that is like, how full that must be. I’m not sure that my experience on Nauru completely falls into what Paul is talking about (as he had been speaking of being filled with God’s love) but I know I am experiencing fullness, an increase in my internal capacity, that I’ve never known before. I know I’m not the same person I was when I left even though, like the Tardis, I still look the same on the outside.
My capacity as a human being has been enlarged, but somehow this largeness still fits into the same container.
All my physical unpacking is done; clothes washed and put back where they belong. There is still a lot of unpacking of myself to do – not sure I have places to put it yet. Just have to trust God that He’ll show me what to do with it all.