You may recognize today's cover photo. I've posted it on Facebook and Twitter and on my Fushilou blog-- it's the view from Room #9, "my" room, at Archodissa pension on Thassos, Greece. It's the view I first saw when I woke up in Greece and realized my soul had finally made its way home. It's the view that I watched disappear into night before we'd dance and sing and throw napkins into the air in celebration. And it was the view that broke me in two when I learned I couldn't get a visa to stay...and that I might not be able to wake up to its sunrises again.
In short, when I returned from Greece, there were two things everyone said to me:
1. I'm glad you're back!
2. I'm sorry. I know you wanted to stay.
It wasn't the worst thing in the world, to return to Providence--I do love it here--but it wasn't how I thought things would go. It seemed like I was a failure in a lot of ways. I was just...disappointed.
Today after work I received a text message, somewhat out of the blue, from a friend. He said:
"I was thinking about your trip [on the Global Scavenger Hunt] today. And how you leaving Greece seemed like the worst thing in the world six months ago. But if you hadn't left Greece, would you have seen/entered the contest? Or found a partner?"
This message made me smile out loud.
He was right. I've known echos of that sentiment before he wrote it, but he more eloquently verbalized it. Sometimes what's waiting for us on the other side of the big dark pit is something much bigger and brighter than we could have imagined. But without loss of the first thing, we cannot make room for the second.
There are a thousand different iterations of this message, so you can choose the one that works best for you. But my take-away is this: that Paul (the saint) was right-- we ought to give thanks always, and in all circumstances, even the ones that don't seem like blessings, because our vantage point is limited.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine..." (Ephesians 3:20).
Even our failures, our challenges and disappointments, these can be stepping stones to higher ground...and to a view that's even better than the one we left behind.
(thanks, B.R., for your wisdom and for being an amazing friend)