This trip has taken me

People don’t take trips – trips take people.” – John Steinbeck
so tired my eyes ache. so excited that I did not sleep the entire flight. now i can only look around me in complete awe.
i feel like i am traveling through a Dutch masterpiece….Vermeer light. it is surreal. flatlands, waterways, grazing sheep, hazy skies, slanted light. the two hour express train from Schiphol airport to Groningen is overwhelmingly and poignantly beautiful. a HUGE white bird flew beside the train. three of the largest horses I have ever seen: Friesland. new wind mills. hundreds of bicycles… thatched roofs… cows and more cows… gardens and garden houses and miles of feed corn fields. everything is green, green, green.
canals and blowing trees. old men walking their dogs. this remarkable color of blue: painted trim, signs, window sills, roofs. people with rosy cheeks. more bikes stacked on top of bikes and not a single helmet to be seen. mist or steam or fog rising up from freshly turned fields. sweaters and gloves and scarves. outstretched  arms from a running Ankie on the train platform. chinese food for dinner. sharing memories and laughter of meeting in England in 1977.  awareness of our innocence. Renewed love and connection. tucked into my own bed covered with heavy woolen blankets, i am ready to sleep.

this trip has already taken me.

flight

right now the crows are speaking. cawing and screaming their harsh songs to one another from the fir tree across the street.

earlier today, two different times. two separate birds flew straight into the living room picture window. i heard each thud, then watched as they fell stock still to the ground stunned before they flew to the rhododendron bush in a daze. they may even have shuddered their heads in disbelief. i know they ruffled their feathers back into place.

image

yesterday, i watched a blue jay fly up to the hydrangea, next to the very same window, with a peanut in its beak. i shook my head in disbelief as it tucked the nut into the tightly held blossom. the jay looked at me ~ more likely its own reflection in the window ~ tilted its head and flew away.

image

this week i watched one grey squirrel after another carry walnuts and peanuts and acorns and treasures unknown around the neighborhood. they have scampered across the front yard, straight to my rose garden where there are now little holes and tiny mounds underneath the rosemary bush, testifying to their presence.

image

why in the world did those birds fly directly into the window?

what would give a jay the idea to hide a nut in a blooming flower?

and how do squirrels know where to find their buried treasures when the time comes?

i cannot answer for these creatures.

i can only reflect on how similar my behavior is to theirs.

tomorrow i fly to amsterdam. then to paris. by myself. this is the first time i have traveled alone in 8 years. i will be gone for 12 days. and until a few days ago, i didn’t really know why i was going, what gave me the idea to go “there” in the first place and how in the world i would be able to find my way.

on thursday, i realized that i was going so far away ~ not to the coast or to the mountains ~ but far enough away that no one could really call me home. no one would need me to fix things. no one would require that i be responsible for them. no one could find me. and in some ways, no one would really know where i am.

do you see the “fly directly into the window” metaphor yet?

i have been flying into one window after another, banging my head, bruising my body, coughing my bones to a place of pain, shuddering the impact off and then trying to deal with my own weariness, my own craziness, my own “nuts” by hiding them, hoping against hope that i will be able to find them when the big freeze comes. and then flying right back into the window.

being a caregiver ~ for my blind husband, for my stroked mother, for my step-father following his back surgery, and from a distance an awareness of my father dying of cancer  ~ is taking a tole on me.

and i didn’t know it. i have been blind,  not seeing clearly. i have not been thinking clearly. i have been to the chiropractor three times this week for low back pain. i have developed asthma over the last two months ~ my breathing is labored.

ah, do you see it? do you see the connections?

although, truth be told, there is that deep, intense inner voice, that gut knowing that nudged me to say yes.

yes, to amsterdam. yes, to lifelong friends in groningen who will welcome me with laughter and love.

yes, to paris ~ yes, to traveling alone. yes, to fear. to new adventures. to new friends. to growth.

and once again, yes, to i can fly.

image

look at the birds. they don’t plant, harvest, or save food in houses or barns, but God feeds them. and you are worth much more than crows.  luke 12:24