this time two years ago i was in europe. last year it was still very fresh in my mind--i could remember every weekend of the month and which place i was off visiting that same time the year before. i still remember mostly, but i usually don't think about it that concretely anymore. i have taken down off my walls a lot of the pictures from that time in an attempt to not live too connected to the past. they were almost painful at times to look at. it's funny, when you're there it almost doesn't seem so far away, but when you return the memories become oceans away.
but tonight i remembered that right about this time two years ago i was in central france at an ecumenical monastery called taize. and all things considered, it was probably my favorite four days of my whole time over there (closely rivaled with the four in santorini). it is really an incredible place that i think is worth a pilgrimage to for any one of you. it is really beyond description in a lot of ways. but if you want you can see pictures of it and hear my telling from two years back here.
i want to go again, and i'm already scheming about when i possibly might be able to do it. i would love to go when it isn't crowded, so i'm thinking maybe early january in a little over a year...? i don't know. but anyone interested in going with me? i am totally serious. let me know.
the thing of it all is, beyond just remembering a great place and longing to go back, that there at taize was really when my life took a new course--one it's been on for two years. and i feel like perhaps that course is changing. i can't lump the entire two years together as all the same, but there has been a characterization of it that came from something God released me to right there in that french monastery.
it was then when i was released to experiencing God through the lens of intimate relationship. it would mark a time of really learning what love is. i think before then i didn't truly know. not that i know now--but i have such a greater idea and experience of it.
before that point i tried to study love--reading kierkegaard and lewis and whoever else to learn what it means to love truly and deeply. but it wasn't till experiencing it that it became something i could at least begin to understand. and much more some way i could experience the heart of God. i experienced adoration, devotion, loyalty, fighting for someone, rejection, fear, loss, hope, renewal, heartbreak, passion, honesty, and truth. these words took on much more meaning for me. i experienced them before that, but differently. that's not to say you can't experience these things deeply outside of romantic love--of course you can. but for me it was an important vehicle to enrich my way of living and understanding life.
were these relationships about experiencing and learning those things? absolutely not. their value is not in any function they perform for me now, but for what they were. we cannot justify loss through pragmatic denigration of the true reality of a thing. it is not about what we can take away from anything, but what was given. it was in the giving that i truly learned and grew, and in a lot of ways it still is.
i can't begin to summarize all the things i have learned about the heart of God through these experiences, and i won't bore you with any more excessive reminiscing. but i am thankful for this path of the last two years. and right now feels like something different. no, i'm not done with love. but it doesn't have to be a major way i experience God anymore, or a way i feel fulfilled through giving and devotion, or the thing that at times became far too central in my life and my plans.
that is the changing of the season. that is the mark of these two years that is no more. i hope i can learn to fully step into that freedom.