Souvenirs

Pilgrims often journey to the ends of the earth in search of holy ground, only to find that they have never walked on anything else.Scott Russell Sanders

Well my friends, we made it.

We’re “home”–back where everyone speaks our language, where we can enter public restrooms FOR FREE, where we can ask for a cup of ice water with our meal and not look like tourists. Where people smile when you enter a store, and come to take your order shockingly fast when you sit down in a restaurant.

We wandered through Safeway today, reveling in the thousands of options at our fingertips. We smile and wave when bikers give us the right of way. And above all, we keep reminding ourselves that Amsterdam really happened and we didn’t just wake up from a very, very long dream. 

Jet lag is still wearing off–I woke up this morning at 3:45 AM, craving noodles. And there are hundreds of photos to sort through and piles of laundry and so many blessings just sitting here at my fingertips. Grace, all of it. Each time I’m tempted to wish I was back in Europe, I stop for a breath, look around, and remember this too is holy ground. This too is a place I will encounter the weight of glory–in the warm sun on my toes, the faces I pass, the work we have returned to.

However, the more we look back on everything we’ve learned and experienced, we realize there was such great value in our time in Amsterdam as well. Together, Ben and I have come up with a list of attitudes or habits really appreciated during the past few months–ones we’d like to begin implementing ourselves in the coming months. Take a look if you’re curious:

1. Hospitality.

We have felt so welcomed into the homes of friends and new acquaintances, both in Amsterdam and while we traveled. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through it all is that traveling doesn’t change you–but the people you meet just might. I’m challenged to look at my own life now that we’ve returned, and make sure I always leave space for spontaneous hospitality.

2. Living simply.

This is one we’ve already started working on in the past year–getting rid of stuff, only owning one car, etc. However, we’ve come home inspired to take even more steps in this direction. For example, if we lived three months without this stuff, how much of it do we really need? And “living simply” isn’t just about getting rid of things, but about protecting things that matter. Evening dinners outside, walks to the store, visiting our local farmer’s markets, and so much more.

3. Making time for beauty.

Buying fresh flowers. Lighting candles. Going to art museums and community concerts. Decorating with and wearing items I love. Making time and space for things I would normally consider luxuries–yet not as part of a luxurious lifestyle.

4. Investing in community.

In the past two years we’ve moved twice, switched churches, and then spent three months abroad. As of yet, we haven’t really invested deeply in any community outside of our circle of friends and family. Our goal for the coming years is to put in the effort to put down roots, without worrying about whether or not we’re staying in that community long-term. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently focused on how to incorporate a lifestyle of justice into my everyday life. And part of what I think this means is to really involve yourself in the lives of people around you.

Now that we’ve returned, the challenge will really be putting these goals into action. In the next few posts, I’ll continue to reflect on what we’ve learned in Amsterdam, and whatever challenges we run into as well! In the meantime, take a deep breath, look around you, and count three things you are thankful for. We really are standing on holy ground.

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