Friday, May 27, 2011

a wanderer's wonderings.

i'm remembering now why i try not to go more than a week without updating this thing...when more than a week passes it becomes that much harder to attach words to events and places and people. oh well. it's been a busy and rich past week-ish and i will do my best to articulate some of the thoughts circling in my head these days. 

i am home now, summer has finally arrived and i am welcoming it with open arms. it came rather abruptly. the goodbyes and finals and end of everything familiar seemed to sneak up on me even though my soul has been longing for the rhythm of summer for what seems like an eternity. 

on sunday i said goodbye to these lovely people and i am going to miss them a lot more than i realized. saying goodbye hurt more than i anticipated. they have each blessed me and taught me so much. we shared the year being RAs together and for that i am so thankful. 

leaving Gordon was extremely bittersweet. again this year God took my breath away time and time again with all that he accomplished through me and in me and with me. i am astonished at how he works through us even when all we see is failure and brokenness. it's incredible how he redeems our intentions and mistakes and miss-spoken words. 

after leaving gordon i spent some time in philly with nina. we stayed with my childhood friend hannah in her house of friends. :) it was so wonderful seeing hannah and meeting her house mates.

and philly? well philly was great. that place never ceases to intrigue me. nina and i walked all over philly, literally walked from one end to the other taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a place that at times felt like a foreign country. on tuesday particularly, we were strangers in an unknown land and it was a really good thing to experience.

hannah had to work on tuesday so nina and i were left to explore on our own. we had a destination and some scribbled directions. unfortunately we could not even find the subway station we were looking for (probably because we were deep in conversation and walked right past it...) so the walking excursion ended up being a little bit longer than we anticipated. after asking for directions and looking at a map we found our way not to the subway but to the trolley, an underground trolley - i had no idea those existed. we were perplexed as we realized we did not see a ticket booth and had no idea how to pay for our ride. we debated whether or not we should just get on and see what happened (haha) or try to figure out the ticket system. we decided to go for it, and turns out you have to pay as soon as you get on and you need exact change. i forgot my wallet and nina only had enough to pay for herself in exact change so we got a discounted rate... as we stumbled to our seats i quickly realized that we were the minority. the only young white girls on the trolley. the only ones who did not understand the culture of philly and public transportation, dang it.

we rode the trolley to the subway and then found our way to front street. as soon as we reached front street i remembered that front street was the part of town that ben had warned us about when we were in philly earlier last summer. unsafe could have been the word he used...but what were we to do? we walked. we weaved in and out of side street vendors, mostly all males, all of a different ethnicity, speaking various languages. we were suddenly very aware of our position; i felt vulnerable and uncertain. my heart raced a little bit and i felt guilty for bringing nina to that part of town. the subway roared overhead. we kept our eyes  glued on our imaginary destination and walked briskly, ignoring the various shouts and stares. we said little to each other, we tried to look like we had a purpose and knew what we were doing. as we came out of the chaos we quickly realized that we totally missed the street we were looking for and when i saw a sign for Temple University i knew we had definitely missed the mark. as we were standing on the street corner trying to gain our bearings a man asked us for directions. i laughed and told him that we were lost too. we turned the corner and asked some young women how to get to frankford and norris; they looked shocked and pointed in the direction from where we came. "you're walking?" she said. we nodded with a smile and turned back, gearing ourselves up for sore feet.

eventually we reached our destination and laughed when we realized how close we were when we stepped off the subway station. the trip would not have been the same without the exploration, however. getting lost and remembering that you know little is good. relying on others is humbling. walking in circles is patience.

and as i felt like such a stranger in philly, (a stranger longing so badly to belong) i remembered how Jesus was a stranger to this world, even though he created it. and i remembered that we are all strangers in this land. we belong, and yet we do not. our hearts beat for things that are so foreign to the majority of this world. our souls long for redemption and wholeness in a place where everything seems to be falling apart. we see in part what one day we will see in full.

the great now and not yet, it always comes back to that, does it not?

philly always inspires me.
getting lost, eating ice cream on the steps of a corner store, stumbling upon urban gardens, using public transportation and meeting new friends... the experience is always rich.
someday perhaps i can know philly in every sense of that word.

and now i'm home and summer continues to be everything my heart longed for. i'm soaking up these free moments and days before babysitting begins - filling them with strawberry picking, playing whiffle ball, going to bouncefunplex, mowing grass, reading books, writing, dreaming, exploring,... it's grand. i'm cutting off my jeans and not brushing my hair, going bare foot and eating strawberries for breakfast. perfection.

also. if you have a summer reading list, please add something by Wendell Berry to it:

"But even the unknown past is present in us, its silence as persistent as a ringing in the ears...You work your way down, or not so much down as within, into the interior of the present, until finally you come to that beginning in which all things, the world and the light itself, at a word welled up into being out of their absence. And nothing is here that we are beyond the reach of merely because we do not know about it. It is always the first morning of Creation and always the last day, always the now that is in time and the Now that is not, that has filled time with reminders of Itself."

-an excerpt from Pray Without Ceasing.

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