It almost felt casual to say I was going to Germany for the weekend. “Sorry I won’t be checking my email for a couple days. I’m just visiting a friend in Germany for the weekend.”
(there she is, my beautiful, wise friend in her carrot apron in her kitchen, ready to make pizza dough with me)
Ellen and I marveled these past couple days about our new norm, that you can just pop over to another country for church or a picnic or a weekend reunion.
I’ll have spent about 20 hours on the train by the time I arrive in Graz this evening, but even though I’ll have travel face, I’ll be refreshed in my heart and my head and my eyes.
My eyes are wide, and my hands are open in the newness. The past few months, I’ve reveled in different and new and unusual. So this weekend, my heart and my mind and my soul reveled in familiar and known.
Ellen taught at my high school and lead a Bible study for the girls in my grade when we were seniors. Perhaps because I never had her as a teacher, she always felt more like a revered, admirable, wise friend than a superior adult. She would ask about the details and was interested in seeing our hearts.
So, naturally, when I found that I would be only a ten-hour train ride from her, it made sense to book the ticket as soon as possible.
We talked and talked (and I think we wore her voice out since she’s fighting a cold… But that didn’t lessen the conversation quality) over tea and coffee, over pizza, over crêpes and trail mix, because the best bonding is done with sustenance and with substance. Good content and good things to nibble and sip.
My normal now, as an adult, as a student, as an international traveler, is that I spend weekends hiking in the Black Forest with a young woman who has influenced me and made pie with me and talked through challenges and joys and questions with me. We then about things that we wanted to bring back to our lives in the States with us, and I think we’d both agree that we want this openness to newness and adventure to be part of it, along with a desire to be more of who God is making us to be through those experiences.
It was anything but casual to spend a weekend with my friend, Ellen. Casual experiences leave you unchanged, but I leave with joy and freshness and leftover pizza. I leave with lightness of heart and new eyes.
I’m glad that I can surround myself (if not in proximity, in influence) with people who help me see differently and invite me to think differently and remind me what’s important.
I’m leaving on a train, about to go through the Alps (but not stare at them for too long because apparently that gives you motion sickness… Who knew?) and back to my other life. And I thank God for this weekend, for a whirlwind trip to Germany, for good food, for thoughtful and hospitable friends (and their kind friends), for making connections, and for His great planning.
These kinds of weekends are no coincidence.