summer (part 2)

I have spent the past few days considering (and maybe, ever so slightly, regretting) my fervent promise to write more about my time on the river, and during that process about 100 stories came to mind about people and events that impacted me.  However, instead of writing dozens of anecdotes about someone or other with this or that special need who did something silly on the river, I thought I would instead just tell you the way my heart felt when I drove away from Moab yesterday.  (Disclaimer: there is one specific trip I DO still want to write about, so don’t fret if you are an anecdote junkie… more on that later.)

(Read while listening to “The Songs We Were Singing” by Paul McCartney for the full effect)

This summer, I learned about what it means to be grateful.  I spent a lot of time with people who go through more in a single day than I have been through in my entire life.   That I can walk or even sit upright, feed myself, go to the bathroom without assistance, follow simple instructions and understand what is going on around me; these are things that I have always taken for granted, but now realize are luxuries that so many people do not have.  Not only am I grateful for the ability to do these things, but I am so grateful for having been able to spend time with people who can’t – to realize that life goes on, and that there is never a reason to give up.

I pulled away from Moab yesterday with eyes full of tears in the sort of way that made me feel like maybe it was just a little unsafe for me to be behind the wheel.  My heart hurt to be pulling away from people who I had spent 4 months living and breathing with, most of whom I had gone less than 5 days all summer without seeing.  It hurt to know that most of these people, who made it seem like sleeping in a twin bed and making about $1/hour was something to feel overwhelmingly grateful for, I would probably never see again.  It hurt to be leaving a community that had welcomed, supported, and challenged me to really be who I am.  (And it didn’t help that I had just said goodbye to someone who makes me feel like there is infinitely more love in the world than I could ever need.)

But somehow my heart was not burdened by the sadness.  I felt empowered by the trueness of the emotions I was feeling – somehow it enforced that my experience in Moab was worthwhile.  I realized that I was feeling pain and sadness because the things I was leaving were powerful and valuable.  It felt like if I tried to fit anything else into my heart, it was going to just overflow.

When it comes down to it, it will be impossible for me to really explain what it was like to spend a summer being humbled by the things I CAN do.

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