Friday, March 23, 2012


The older I get, the more I feel like I become aware of just how fleeting life is. Tonight marks the last evening of the Senior Thailand trip. Tomorrow, we will travel back to Tokyo by means of a varied (almost comical) series of transportation modes, which will include boat, elephant, van and plane, at the very least.

This was my third time chaperoning, making me a veteran chaperon. I'll never forget that first trip, where I felt so far out of my element, so thoroughly unhelpful, so frustratingly in the way. It doesn't seem like all that long ago.

This year, stepping out of the van into the warm ThaTon night air was a familiar homecoming. I felt at ease and capable the whole week, not at all out of place. The week seemed to fly past. I knew it would, even as I was unpacking my suitcase on that first night. With six activity and project-filled days ahead, the week looked like a long one, but I knew better.

Now, it's Friday evening, and all of the "wills" have aged into "dids". All that's left is to settle down for one more sleep in this serene setting, pack our bags and leave. As I write, I am sitting outside in the courtyard between the dorm buildings that have been home for 45 Seniors and 6 chaperones this past week. It's past 10, but the air is warm and carries with it both the memories and promises of summer. The students have just gone to their rooms after a good day of work (they finished pouring the concrete on the work-project that they funded: the floor of what will soon be a new canteen for a hill-tribe school). They enjoyed a peaceful evening of bonding, relaxation and worship with their classmates. Several have even just discovered emails of college acceptance, and are celebrating with their friends. All of these happenings hold a particular significance to me as their teacher--this class of Seniors is special to me, as they were the first whole class that I taught for English and Humanities, and are a group with whom I feel connected. What happens to them--the people they are, the people they'll become, where they'll go and what they'll do--all of this matters to me and so as they celebrate, I celebrate. Earlier this evening, we released large paper lanterns into the night sky and watched, entranced, as the floating beacons faded into tiny dots of light and then blackness. This evening is, as far as my life experiences allow me to say, about as near to a perfect moment as can be attained in this broken world. There's joy, love and a pervading sense of peace.

In times such as this, I wish that I could simply freeze time and savor every last bit of the moment, experience nothing else. Knowing this to be impossible, I do what I can: I simply sit outside in the warm night air and soak in all of it. I know that eventually, I'll need to go up to my room, put my head on my pillow and fall asleep, and that I'll wake up to a long, tiring day of travel, but for now, I sit.

I'm 26 years old as I write this. I wonder how many other people my age realize that these moments are to be sought and cherished. I wonder how many others drop everything for a single moment. I wonder how many others simply... sit.

Whatever may come tomorrow and in the weeks that follow, I know this much: I'm grateful to God for this single moment, for the taste of Shalom that He has provided, and I eagerly await the day when all of creation shall know such peace in the full.

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