Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unexpected Love

I remember the exact moment, the exact image, that took my breath and heart away. We were at Disney World of all places, and my heart was immediately captured. I'm not talking about a person, but bear with me as I try to communicate this experience of unexpected love.
It was several years ago when Tom and I were celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary. On our honeymoon my new husband had taken me "around the world" at Epcot, taking a photograph of me in each "country". We had returned to Disney to recreate that fun memory. In an unexpected place I experienced a life-transforming moment. I fell in love with China. Yes, the country of China.
It was just another stop on our trip around the world so we visited the "China in 360" attraction. We had probably visited it on our honeymoon, but I have no recollection of that visit. This visit, however is etched in my memory. In a round movie theater with no seats, only bars to lean on, we were viewing a film that gave you the sense of standing on the Great Wall, seeing everything in front, behind and around you or traveling on boat on a river, or walking on the streets of Shanghai. I was enchanted, but then we were flying above beautiful mountains, rivers and hillsides unlike any I had ever seen. That was the moment my heart overflowed. I was unexpectedly arrested by the beauty of a country that until that moment was just a large shape on a map. After that moment, I felt myself among the people, immersed in the music, the grace, the beauty of an unfamiliar culture. I didn't want the film to end. When it did come to an end, my emotions didn't. My feelings were so strong I couldn't speak. I left the theater knowing that some day I HAD to go to China.
Amazingly enough, later that same year my husband was invited to go on a trip to China . We were both excited at the prospect and my first question was "Can I go?" The answer was yes, but I would have to pay (his expenses were covered by the nature of the trip.) It was hard to give up, but I knew without a doubt that, for a variety of reasons, this was not the time for me to go. But deep within I knew that I knew that somehow another opportunity would come at the right time. So, I learned as much as I could about the places he was visiting and drank in the pictures he took with no jealousy. It helped that he went in January and it was freezing cold! I didn't envy that part of his trip!

Just recently it happened! Another opportunity to go to China! Excitement about the possibility quickly became an inexplicable, painful longing.  I went to my husband and as close as I could without begging asked if we could go. No, that's not really it. I told him, with eyes overflowing, "I have to go to China."

So, next spring we are going to China. My heart still swells at the prospect, for reasons I can't explain. But I AM going and somehow I know that once will just not be near enough. This unexpected love will not be satisfied with one visit. This will be the first for me, second for Tom, with who knows how many to come. Only God knows what part China plays in my future. I know this kind of love doesn't happen without a reason. I just can't tell you what that reason is yet. I can only tell you that it has unexpectedly come... to stay.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mistakes and Mishaps

Doesn't it bug you when you make little mistakes? No? Well, it bugs me. I recently went for a haircut. I have been looking at photos at the hair dresser's for years trying to find something that is both "new" and "me" at the same time. I showed a photo to the stylist and talked about my thoughts on what I might like to do with my hair. Non-committal, as usual. On the way home I realized that I had mistakenly identified Keira Knightly as Winona Rider in the pic. No biggie, right? I got that squirmy feeling inside at having made a silly mistake. So, what's the big deal? I found that one easier to shake off than others, but I still had a few moments of discomfort at the realization. Maybe I would have felt better if I blamed someone else for my mistake... Why do they use photos of celebrities any way? Who really knows all those people? ...Nope, doesn't work. Still my mistake.

So, maybe you are okay with your own mistakes, but get really peeved at the mistakes of others that affect you. Maybe you'll identify with this one. My daughter recently applied to be a part of an educational travel group. First, she got a call saying she was accepted. Yippee! Later that night we got another call saying the first call was premature. What? Eventually, we heard that she was not accepted to the program "at this time". But the first mistake precipitated a number of positive communications from the national office until the withdrawal went through their whole system. She has handled the whole thing pretty well, but I became a bit annoyed. What if my daughter had been heart-broken? What would all this see-sawing do to her then?   I was polite and understanding in my phone contacts to clear things up, but I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to have her sign up with this organization again if she had another opportunity.

Yes, we all make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. We know this, but we don't really practice it, do we? Somehow, we still expect perfection of ourselves and others.  Why is that? Honestly, I think we were created for perfection, but that perfection is not within our grasp on this earth. We are continually disappointed. "What a tease!", you may think. Well...yes, I think it is meant to be a tease. If perfection were available in this life why would we hope for anything else? If perfection is only available in the life to come, then that desire for perfection makes sense, and our constant disappointment on earth becomes a reminder of our need to hope for something better. For the many who don't believe in a life to come those constant disappointments can be life-shattering and cause them to lose hope completely.

So, I am reminding myself that this is not all there is. Those little mistakes don't really matter in the big scheme of things, not just my own mistakes, but the mistakes of others. In the long run, they are reminders that I am just passing through, making the most of this journey, on the way to what really matters. Perfection really does exist, it's just out of my reach... for now.