As I travel through Europe I am learning, exploring, and coming to new understandings of the world I live in. So many new experiences that I hardly know where to begin. I feel like I'm living in a kaleidoscope!
One thing that has struck me on the entire trip is language. As someone who is basically mono-lingual, I've been impressed with the polyglot of languages all over Europe. Almost everyone I come in contact with speaks more than one language at least enough to converse. And frequently they switch from language to language--sometimes within a single sentence. The lesson I'm learning from this is that we don't have to speak alike to be in communication with one another. We cross boundaries in our interactions, even when we speak a common language, and good will is much more important than any word!
And beyond the language itself, I am impressed with how forgiving the Europeans are of one another. In Germany I heard story after story of how small towns have made an effort to reconcile with the Jewish people who needed to leave when Hitler came to power. They talk of this openly--of the heinous crimes that were committed under the reign of Nazism. In Austria, our tour guide talked of the lead up to the First World War as a history lesson, without any noticeable rancor.
Together these two experiences, that were repeated several times during my trip, have reminded me that we all need to be in right relation with one another. We need not to hold on to past grudges, hurts, or even tragedies, but to find a way to talk about them openly and go on from there. Life is full of lessons, no matter where we are [I didn't really need to travel halfway round the world to find that out!], and the only thing we need to worry about is how well we learn those lessons. And, once learned, we need to move on to the next experience, opportunity, or interaction without prejudice.
Europeans all over have welcomed me into their cities, restaurants, museums, and concerts. I hope I am returning their good will as I appreciate the richness of their lives and their culture.
Can't wait to get home and tell you some of those wonderful stories!
Until then, may you