And then it really became a pilgrimage.

21 September 2010

There’s something very beautiful about going on a trip to see the people you love and care about — people that have shared the same experiences as you and lived with you through the best and worst times of your life. From seeing Reagan in OKC who has been with me throughout college and endured my crazy quirks to Heath who has taught me much about people and compassion, then from my brother Gunnar to my cousin Grant with whom I have grown up and who have seen me grow from little girl to awkward girl to college girl to graduate, then to Becky in Arkansas who has been there for me in everything for the past four years and made me laugh and played racquetball with me to Aaron in Memphis who has shared one of the greatest times of my life with me.

Aaron & I were in Nepal together three years ago. I got to have coffee with him today and it was marvelous. Talking about the future with someone who has bargained alongside you in a third world country left me driving away in awe of the sense of community someone can have from one side of the world to the next. Tomorrow I leave Nashville for Columbia, SC where I will meet up with two others that were with me in Nepal. I know that being together with them will leave me with the same grateful feeling and sense of awe of God with which I left Memphis today.

Driving from Memphis to Nashville was another treat entirely. I could feel my day getting better (if that was even possible), then I could see it getting better as the golden leaves started falling from the trees that lined Music Highway. Autumn is in the air.

The leaves flew alongside me the entire way, flashing bright yellow as they stepped out of the shadow and into the light from the sun. And, eventually, I reached Nashville.

My cousin Grant goes to Belmont. It’s his last semester and I finally made it to see him. After running down the street to catch me from going the wrong way, we got in his box car and drove to the university where I was immediately impressed with his superb parallel-parking skills. I thought only Nepali cab drivers could fit into spots like that!

We went on a full tour of the university (which is gorgeous) and I got to see my first recording studio (of which there are several in Nashville). Then we went to his super-savvy house and to a pizza place (where we had the Tuesday-Buy-One-Get-One-Pizza-Slice deal). A few beautiful and deep and sarcastic conversations later, he took me to the art building where his girlfriend Gretchen was in class, and we took a gander around Belmont’s photography and ceramics departments. I entered my first darkroom here! After meeting up with Gretchen, we went to Fido’s Coffee Shop. And now I’m in her house using her computer, getting ready for bed. There are many wonderful things I could say about Gretchen here. She’s so sweet, and she’s one of the best designers I’ve ever seen. Every room looks like HGTV came by and decorated it! Her paintings are wonderful, too.

I’ve learned several things today — like where Taylor Swift records and what music I should listen to (thanks Aaron). But basically it all comes down to this: A pilgrimage like this is not just about finding Peter Pan or figuring out that I really do have to grow up. It’s about spending time with people like the ones I’ve seen the past three days and knowing that no matter what happens in the future, my life has been a pilgrimage with the most beautiful people that could have been in it. The people God has allowed me to know and love have shaped me and shown me His love — his desire for true community and time — in a very real way. I’m finding God’s love here in OKC, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville. And it’s good to remember again.

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