Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you...
-Rivers and Roads,The Head and the Heart
"You can't step into the same river twice."
-Plato, as quoted by a good college friend
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-The Road Less Traveled, Robert Frost
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
-The Lord of the Rings, J.R,R. Tolkien
So I've been thinking a lot about rivers and roads. In some of the best literature, music, and art in human history, these two things have represented both the journey to places unknown and the journey home. The Bible quotes extensively about both roads and rivers-there were so many quotes about rivers that I couldn't pick one. Most significantly, Christian tradition talks about a river as the ultimate ending to our journeys: the river Jordan (symbolizing death) as the last barrier before reaching Paradise. Rivers and roads both represent life choices, adventure, joy, grief, leaving behind all familiarity, and returning to it once again. But despite all these meanings, they have one thing in common: the people who travel the rivers and roads of this world, whether mental or physical, never return unchanged.
This topic has been near to my heart and thoughts lately. Over the past year, I have seen 5 couples who are dear to me commit to each other for life. I graduated from college, got engaged, and planned the wedding and this Bolivia trip simultaneously. At some point over the summer, I realized that my journey is leading away from many cherished aspects of my life over the past four years: living with some of my best friends every day, learning as my primary job, adventuring for the summer in far-off places, and having my relationships stay the same. And I’m coming to the realization that I can never go back (I know, it only took me a year, right?). But I can journey on, knowing that this will make the reunion in both my earthly and heavenly homes sweeter.
What does all this have to do with teaching English in Cochabamba, Bolivia for 2 ½ months? That’s a great question! (which is what I’m constantly telling my English students). I’d wanted to live abroad on a more long-term basis since the beginning of college and had been actively seeking opportunities to get back out on the road since graduation. It’s sort of a long story, but it’s enough to say that God definitely came through and provided this opportunity. The Guerreros graciously agreed to host me for 2 ½ months, the mission board accepted me, and family and friends overwhelmingly provided me with the resources to be here. All since the beginning of August. It’s been a wild ride, but I am so happy to be here during this time of journeying on and letting go. This trip is a fulfillment of my last remaining college dream, but is also a bridge into other journeys, other rivers, other roads…
I know this blog post has been really delayed, but between trying to adjust and having a major case of writer’s block, this first post has been a process. Thanks for your patience and your prayers. I will try to write again with more about my activities shortly. J
Ciudad de Refugio (the place where I'm working)