Monday, September 05, 2011

Re-Entry in 2011

When Spillane treats injured seamen offshore, one of the first things he evaluates is their degree of consciousness. The highest level, known as "alert and oriented times four," describes almost everyone in an everyday situation. They know who they are, where they are, what time it is, and what's just happened. If someone suffers a blow to the head, the first thing they lose is recent events - "alert and oriented times three" - and the last thing they lose is their identity. A person who has lost all levels of consciousness, right down to their identity, is said to be "alert and oriented times zero." John Eldredge, quoting The Perfect Storm in Waking the Dead

Re-entry seemed to be a theme for Ember this summer. Three significant people in our circles experienced this kind of culture shock and these are people who have spent a good amount of time traversing cultural and physical distances.

Andrew and John both experienced re-entry shock and I was significantly worried about Andrew. When we had dinner, he had scattered thoughts, was somewhat disengaged and very confused about his time in history and here in suburbia. John fared better, although when I saw him right after his trip, he was really jet lagged. Fortunately for them and me, I needed a house sitter two different times this summer. They helped me and Phoebe the dog both of those times and they told me that the quiet of an empty house was a gift for them to think. Kind of like a neutral location, a key debriefing concept if you have the luxury of making something like that work. Michelle had a little different experience, telling me that she never experienced culture shock in South Africa, but did experience it in Italy while there meeting her family. All goes to show that re-entry shock is something to expect and not to dismiss out of hand.

For these three, re-entry meant processing their experiences about poverty, race, the Church, community and God's unique call on their life. You know, the easy stuff that marks milestone events in someone's life. The other difficult thing about re-entry is finding your voice. Although lots of people think they want to hear about your experiences, you know 2 minutes into telling your stories who is really interested and who thought they were interested.

Two small but important roles that a mobilizer plays: help people reenter their home culture well and help them find their voice from their experience. Both are vital for empowering the next generation of global leaders.


  1. Oh re-entry. It only took me a year :-P.

  2. well at least you are over it =)

    maybe next year i should do a series of interviews with people to ask them questions about their re-entry...?

  3. Yes! I'm so there.

    And over it is relative. But I'm healthy I think :-)

  4. yeah i hear you about it being relative. some of it you want to stick.... we go because we want to be changed...

    hmm i like this idea of interviews though... =)

  5. Wait, I left another comment in response to this but it's not here. Did you see it? Or did I not put it in somehow?

  6. Weird. In any case. I would love to be interviewed on reentry if you are looking for a subject. I found hearing about others' experiences with that really helpful so I'd be happy to contribute :-)
    love ya!

  7. deal!

    ps - glad you are loving portland!