Paris, Je T’aime

I’m sitting in the Dulles airport in Washington D.C. after a long and mostly uneventful flight from Paris. It will take a few posts to tell you all about my trip, but for now, let’s start at the beginning. As the plane dipped below the cloud cover to land, I noticed the unique loveliness of the French countryside. It is so different from other landscapes. For example, when you first glimpse Ireland, you are overwhelmed by the vibrancy and variety of green that paints the country. But France is a patchwork of pastels. The fields swathe the land like a quilt, each one a pale mint green or a lilac or subdued gold. The colors are hazy, dream-like, as if dawn had just shrouded the earth with her gauzy veil. The ground is almost flat, with a hint of gently rolling hills. It makes me feel instantly at peace, as I hang suspended between heaven and earth. But the plane eventually lands, and the countryside is exchanged for the urban cityscape. Certainly, it has its own charms, but that’s for another time.

Reflection

I was asked to speak at Taylor’s All-Campus Communion Service tonight.  Here’s what I said.

I earned my undergraduate degree as well as my master’s degree from Taylor, and I can only begin to sum up all that I’ve learned here.

I’ve learned that a Polar Pop costs exactly 74 cents with tax, and that going to get one from Handy Andy is an event in and of itself.  And yes, I know it’s Circle K now, but that doesn’t matter.  It will always be Handy Andy.  I have never been more excited to go to a gas station for a coke than when I’m with my wing for a “Hands Ands” run.  My friends at home will never understand this.

I’ve learned that bowties will never go out of style as long as Randy Gruendyke still lives and breathes.  I’ve learned that when I’m away from school, I miss chapel.  I miss it because it’s with all of you, and in those moments where we all get caught up in something so much bigger than ourselves, I feel connected to the generations of the Church that have gone before us.

I have learned that knowledge is extremely valuable.  It is never a waste of time.

That the pursuit of wisdom is incredibly rewarding and terribly humbling.

That if you ask for wisdom, God will give it to you despite all your foolishness.  All your mistakes.

But more important than knowledge or even wisdom is compassion. Kindness.  Humility.  Love.

I have learned that people change.  Even the ones you care about most.  They change, situations change.  Life is change.  I used to hate when people said that to me.  I refused to accept it.  I wouldn’t.  But it’s true.  Life is change.  But God does not change, and if your relationships are rooted in Him, you will know the assurance that though some of your friendships may fade or look different in the future, you are bound by something deeper than this world can offer.  The most important relationships have continuity because we are bound in Christ and in his love, and nothing will ever change that.

I’ve learned that I’m not the person I want to be yet, but God is patiently working with me and making me into that woman.  I’ve learned that when I sin, when I mess up time after time, God doesn’t look at me and sigh with disappointment.  Even in my lowest moments, God sees me not as I am, but as I will be.  He never despairs that I won’t become who I’m supposed to be, because he sees the end result already.  Instead of a weak, selfish sinner, he sees a pure, grace-filled, truly good person.  Because each day, I am being made more like Jesus, and one day, I will be complete and whole.  Until then, I need to show myself grace, because God certainly doesn’t withhold it from me.  When God tells us to show forgiveness and mercy to our brothers and sisters, it also means that we should forgive ourselves too.

Finally, I’ve learned to love this dot on the map, surrounded by cornfields and a lot of sky.  I love this place, because it was here that I started the journey to growing up.  To becoming a person of substance.  I met with God in the cornfields, and on a front porch swing, and in the chaos of the dorms.  I met with him and lived with him and learned from him, here at Taylor.  And I am so grateful.