When I wrote myself the letter almost three months ago, I was in a delirious, post-birthday scourge of boldness. Words are a lovely way of telling yourself what you should be doing. Life is another story in and of itself. Sometimes courage remains on the page instead of nestling around your heart, but thankfully, this moment was not one of them.
So I booked the plane ticket and packed my bags and boarded the long flight across the ocean.
I had visions in my head of what almost three weeks in Europe would do. Everyone talks of the life changing power of time abroad, and this writer’s heart was leaping in excitement for the words this trip might create. My journal, brand new and soft along the leather seam, was packed in my carry on, ready. Waiting.
It wasn’t opened again past the first stop in Paris for a few days. My heart had words, my mind was full, but the journal sat unopened. I sketched in it instead.
And that was okay, I came to realize. Because just like a camera, my pen and journal couldn’t really capture what was happening in front of me. The towering old buildings, the ruins, the sound of accents and other languages melting in the pavement around me – that was meant to shape my heart in ways words and photographs never could quite capture.
And I did write a few days later. And I did take many pictures to capture the beauty and life surrounding me. They aren’t as powerful as I would like, because I would rather paint a picture for you in words and in photos that bring you to that place. Words can only do so much.
Maybe like most moments in life the days I spent abroad shaped and shifted my heart in ways I can’t quite convey in words, yet. But someday. Maybe you’ll see it in the way I drink my coffee: even stronger than I drank it before, just as the Greeks made it. Maybe you’ll see it in the way I create, now, understanding that maybe our cultures’ way of creating for functionality should shift more towards creating for beauty.
Or maybe it will be in the way I realize that boxes were never made for a God who spoke the world into existence. He is big. And loving. And beautiful. And those towering steeples were just meant to point us towards that truth.
Words are beautiful and I will always love the way they look and tell stories and breath life into a darkened world. But sometimes they are not enough. These moments, captured in my heart, won’t be explained well across the pages. But you’ll see them elsewhere. If you look. Life is so much about what we choose to see.
I don’t have any eloquent words to end this with other than to treasure moments that change you in your heart. Remind yourself of them on days when darkness settles in for a visit. Be like Mary, who held a life in her womb that would bring light to this world: treasure up all these things in your heart. Hold them close.
Let them shine brightly in your life as only a treasure can.