This is a post from my series The Gospel of Enough, based on a theatre performance by George Fox University players. These stories happened in the past, but are written in first person so you can get a sense of my thoughts and feelings during each story as I worked through big emotions to get to where I am now. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
My plane touches ground at Sea-Tac International Airport. My lower back and thighs ache from sitting for almost fourteen hours and my skin is screaming for real moisturizer. In less than I day I went from the Middle East in Dubai to the West Coast of the USA. I’m anxious and excited. To see and to tell and to perhaps, share in the experiences that I had. In two days Bangladesh will begin to be a receding memory as the business of classes, and graduation and Res Life and the newspaper crowd into my mind.
I jabber most of the way to Oregon, my parents listening enthusiastically and my mom drilling me with questions. I get back to my house in Newberg, greated by friends and familyfriends who are just as excited to see me.
But somehow…no one seems to know how to bridge the conversation to Bangladesh. The huge wall of where do I start, what questions do I ask, seems to block any interest they have of my experience. I try to relate what I saw and experienced, but it simply seems to fall on ears who have no reference for what I’m trying to say. Eventually it falls to the side as something I did and something they read about on my blog but not something shared.
I become aware. Things that only slightly bothered me before now break my heart. To see small or closed minds who have no connection or even want of connection, to listen to thoughts anchored on America the Great and Powerful, to see people who can’t understand the context of a different culture.
To travel is a dangerous thing. You come back changed and different and the lens through which you view the world is so different. You see clearly.
Which is why when I saw my friends laboring over an essay, or fearing a test or bemoaning a B+ in a class, or even just spending so much time doing and not enough being, it breaks my heart. Before Bangladesh it only bothered me in a way that things I want to understand but can’t always seem to do. But now it tore at my heart, it made me uncomfortable and I saw a gap in between my world and theirs widen. The common points were starting to drop off the map.
It broke my heart to see such small vision, especially from women who have such big hopes for the future. It made my being cry out to hear simple comments about “weird foreign countries” and simple-minded statements remarking on people or practice. And more so, I wanted to share what I had seen, what I did and how I changed.
But I was shaken irrevocably by the simple fact that I couldn’t.
Because no matter how many times I share the pictures, no matter how many ways I tell the story or different venues I use to present my experience, the only way to see and to know is to risk going much too far for our own good. And that is something each person must do on their own. It can be shared only so far as we allow others into our journey and open our hearts and minds to what is happening within our souls.
How much I wish to share what I saw. The people I met. The smiles I witnessed. The smells that now send me into an intense longing for the different parts and places of Bangladesh. My time there is not finished, this I know. But neither is my time here. As long as my heart breaks for this world, I must be a part of it. As long as my heart breaks for my friends, I must be there to walk the journey with them.