Pondering my daughter’s latest post about her service in Nepal as an acupuncture physician, I am suddenly struck by our shared proclivity to leave comfort of the familiar and strike out, only to become a guest in someone else’s home, community, country. A young woman at thirty, there is a world to explore and she is discovering her place in service to it.
My own reflections at sixty-one reveal that life has been a constellation of significant choices: that of casting myself as far across the country as possible at eighteen in order to live in what felt as foreign a place as I could imagine. Moving from a city in Southern California to the woods and waters of Maine, I spent thirty-two years growing into myself while raising two daughters. Somewhere in the midst of it, we broke camp and set out for a tiny Hawaiian island, spending a couple of years there before relocating to the high desert of New Mexico. Returning again to Maine a year later for the duration of my girls’ education, I then embarked on another adventure, this time to the Big Island of Hawaii. In between there was traveling; snapshots of other places, other times.
I’d be lying if I said there was any grand plan. There wasn’t.
This young traveling progeny and I share a love of freedom of what is wild, of fresh air and clean waters; we are people who love to cook wholesome food grown as close to the ground as possible. Appreciating the richness of cultures beyond our own, we are keenly interested in what is important to others; what lies beyond the brush of a passing shoulder, what concerns another holds in their fathomless eyes.
There is something profoundly symbolic about choosing to live beyond one’s comfort zone, a sharpening of the senses in experiencing what is outside one’s own language, routine and story. To go where nobody knows my past and where the future is uncertain makes the metaphor clear: we are but guests here on Mother Earth. As a guest, I remember my manners and help where I can with a humble and grateful heart. Like any courteous guest, I never take my position in the household for granted. I help prepare; clean up after myself.
In the way of all guests, I have come to respect the small and large miracles revealed to my unsuspecting delight. An open heart invites upswells of love and appreciation. Like plumbing any good well, supplies of kindness and understanding quite easily reveal themselves in limitless abundance. There is, and forever will be plenty to share.