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“You Cannot Always Choose Where You End Up, But Can Always Choose What You See”: E’s Week

What were you grateful for this week? ROME.

What was the most challenging part of this week?

Sleeping in an airport. 

Tell us about a "wow" moment you had this week.  I made daisy chain crowns for them and took their pictures!

Tell us about your week! Of the many hardships I have had to endure on this sojourn to Europe, the worst by far has been sleeping in airport. I'm only sort of kidding. Have you ever tried to sleep by yourself in an airport? In a foreign country? Let me explain. I was already on edge, as it were. Having "one of those days". And in the morning I was going to Rome by plane -- only a 45-minute flight, but we were flying out at 7, and I had no way to get to the airport that early in the morning, so I had to stay at the airport. I had a mental breakdown on the train on the way there, probably making all the other passengers very nervous, and also my cab driver from the train to the airport. And then I finally got there, checked in, and tried to get through security, but they wouldn't let me through to the gates until the next day. That was just one thing too many for me, and so, with all the wretchedness of any proper Regency-era heroine, I rushed to the bathroom, locked myself in, and wept. Loudly. And it was 8pm. Then there was the business of finding somewhere to charge my phone so it didn't die in the middle of the night. Then, the business of finding a suitable place to sleep without getting murdered or robbed. I definitely didn't sleep for long. It was a 3 hour night. If that. Travel is beautiful, life-changing. It teaches you so much about life, and about yourself. It changes the way you see things. But that does NOT mean it's easy. There are, bundled with the awe-inspiring and paradigm-shifting, your standard moments of heartache; of longing for home; of life, of hard, real life. Indeed, when the flight landed in Rome, I was stiff in the neck, itchy in the eyes, and tired to my very soul, not to mention that my brain felt like someone had put it in a blender. I wondered if it was even worth it. I wondered that all the way up until I saw Adam touching the finger of God. Looking up at them unfolded something I didn't know I was keeping stored in my ribcage, a bit of my heart that had never been seen by anyone, least of all me. And I felt the tears in my heart and my throat before I felt them on my face, but it was all warm, is what it was. The Sistine Chapel is the first place that has actually moved me to tears in all of Europe so far, perhaps because standing beneath the eyes of God is so obviously a reminder of His proximity to me. It is, apparently, possible to feel tiny, a pin-prick of a star in the blackness of heaven, and at the same time to feel swollen and significant, to feel as though you are almost the only person ever to live, and the only person ever to be dying, and the only person ever to feel, and the only person to know God the way you know Him — which is true. It was this sight, of God reaching down to Man, that reached inside of me, pulling out the reality, making it clear where I am, the ground upon which I stand. These were the streets Caesar walked, the place where Peter died, the capital of Western Civilization, the greatest of all military and political empires possibly ever. The unfolding that I experienced was both grounding and humbling, reminding me that you cannot always choose where you end up, but you always can choose what you see in the places you are. And you can choose who you'll be there, too; either a ghost, barely there, or a wild, bright, brilliant girl who felt everything she had to feel and gave so much of herself to the places she was that they couldn't help but give her pieces of themselves in return. I hope to be a patchwork quilt of the people and places I have met when I return. The saying is that when you're in Rome, you must do as the Romans do. I have come to learn that more important than to do as the Romans do is to be in Rome, to really be there. To "open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close to you forever." To reach out. To touch God's finger, to let that do what it does to you. And to open yourself up to the things that are yours. 

China Teaching
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