The last day/return
While our group is boarding the bus to return to the airport the Hungarian students, our new friends, have to hurry to their Greek lecture. After a few hours, as we are checking how to travel home as fast as possible, they are having a well-earned coffee after having been thoroughly instructed about cases and further intricacies of the beautiful language in our New Testament. Business as usual, life resumes its natural course: my mailbox is cluttered and as I am writing this my first after-holiday meeting lies already behind me. It seems nothing has changed, as if we haven't been away at all, and we continue our normal lives.
But appearances can be deceiving. Never did I make a trip that invoked so many thoughts. In this post-war society, in the countries of former Yougoslavia, my notion of 'peace', 'justice', 'reconciliation' and history has been drastically shaken. A conflict with such a grave impact on countries and populations makes going back to life as it used to be a difficult process. However, explaining away the differences in order to reach an artificial seem of unity is not a wise option. What rang true with me was the search for connectedness through tolerance of and respect for each other, By sharing songs and singing together or shared efforts to improve life for Roma. Not staying indifferent to other people's uniqueness but making room for it and give it true value, even when things are clashing with your own convictions.
After this gripping experience juist going back to life and business as usual is taxing for me, just as it was and is for Bosnians, Serbs and Kroatians. This trip will have a lasting impact on me, as a theologian, and even more as a human being. Yes, I will go back to my own life, both as usual and markedly different at the same time!