People have asked me along the way what I am learning being abroad. Where to start? Every day on the road, Stephen and I have experienced or observed things that would be the topic of conversations for weeks back home. Here on the road, though, it’s just one shocking moment after another. A cow walks into a train station alongside the humans, so what? I’m welcomed to an Israeli bachelor party...apparently I can hang with the boys! And of course, the immigration officer would help us in his underwear...it was 4am, after all. All of these situations are hilarious and we have laughed our way through so many awkward moments. If you want to feel foolish, travel.
But, I digress, back to what we’re learning.
It’s amazing how time reveals what has deeply stayed with me through all these moments. One of those major themes; people are very proud of who and where they come from. This has been such a beautiful pride to observe. No matter the place, people are honored that we came to experience their home. They are eager to share their land, history, culture, and traditions with us. They aren’t blind to the issues they face, but there is a deep sense of belonging and care for their history and their future. This is all tied up within the family unit and is a clear picture the deep roots people make.
I understand this rich pride of homeland so well being from the Northwest. I speak of Seattle as home so much and claim unashamedly that it is the most beautiful place on earth. Yes, you really should visit and stay at my parents' house (is that okay, Dad?)! Along this journey as people ask where we we're from, I noticed quickly that I was giving way more information that they were interested in. It went like this, “I’m originally from Seattle and Stephen is from Georgia and we now live in Nashville.” I c
ould have just said "Nashville" and been done with it.
You know when you hear yourself and you start to cringe a little? That was me with every introduction. I realized how closely my identity was wrapped up in my home, my land, my people, my history. Seattle is a sacred place for me and I feel like I have been able to relate to people and understand more deeply their connection with the land we stood on.
I think this is such a beautiful thing in so many ways. I don’t really know how to wrap this “lesson” I learned up in a box but to say that as we have walked with people from many nations and tongues it has been a profound thing to celebrate the many differences between us and equally a profound thing to celebrate the common ground we share as humans. Sharing stories and values and blessings.
I will end with an update. I've stopped the mini monologue and now go with, “I’m from Nashville.” My heart and passion for this gem of the South grows every day. Seattle will always have my heart, but love doesn't divide...it multiplies.
In Israel at the Garden of Gethsemane. Now this guy really has my heart. Home base.