Failure and Retreat

Journey to Justice

Small Steps into Big Issues

Burtigny, Switzerland; Stuttgart, Germany; Vancouver, Canada, 2008

Four weeks in Burtigny writing about justice issues had felt like such a good fit. I got to study, research, express, and (hopefully) help people find a way to improve the world. The location was stunning, the people friendly, the language my favorite – if it were a math problem it would have all added up.

So I pretended like it added up. I began to talk about staying for the longer term. I was only expected to be there four weeks, only had the funds for four weeks. But I wanted so badly to commit to something and have a place that I started preparing myself to stay longer.

I had been travelling, trying new things, changing my mind, making decisions that didn’t work out for years. I wanted to plant. I wanted those that were supporting me not to think I was  flippant, but that I had a plan and purpose. I didn’t want anyone back home to think what the heck is she doing now?

The problem with my little plan was that it wasn’t the plan at all. It was my own manipulation and I soon couldn’t hold it together.

Problem one: No money

No money to stay in Switzerland. No money to leave Switzerland. I just flat couldn’t afford anything.

Problem two: Disobedience

Worse than the finances was my heart as I began to realize that I hadn’t listened at all. I hadn’t truly considered what my path should be. I had assumed, made a major decision without any backing and realized with pain and heartache that I was human, flawed, didn’t have it all together and wasn’t going to grow in this particular soil.

Answer one: Generosity

A friend deposited the exact amount of the needed train ticket and I loaded up and left feeling defeated. The only word I could come up with for my time was disheartening. In truth, I was disappointed. I wanted to be part of something bigger, wanted to be needed, wanted to live my dream alongside others with a similar dream, supporting each other and walking through life.

As if to highlight my misguided path, the train I took stopped, transfered and changed more times then I could count. I had to lug my giant suitcase around, bruising my shins to match my ego as I kicked it into place or down some steps repeatedly.

I spent a few weeks at my parents house in Germany. They would head off to work in the morning and I would sulk around, occasionally visit the neighbors and generally throw myself a little pity party.

When my sister and brother-in-law called one evening we talked about  flying back to the states and living with them. They offered to buy the plane ticket from Frankfurt to North America if I could just find the ticket from wherever I landed to home. It just happened that the least expensive flight was Frankfurt to Vancouver.

Answer two: Healing

In Vancouver lived one of my best friends and his extraordinary family.

I sat with them and healed with them. I doubt they knew all of what was happening in my shattered heart, but they opened their home, loved me, wrapped their arms around me, fed me falafel and let me heal.

On my last day there I sat to have tea with my friends mum. She (rather prophetically) asked me, “What is your vocation?” I had no idea what she meant. I started talking about getting a job when I got home and, after rambling a bit, she stopped me and said, “No, what is the place in this world that only you fill? The Darcie-sized whole in the story?”

To reach down into the deepest darkness and pull people out. I knew it, I had seen it, I had forgotten it in my desire to choose my own way.

In that moment I pieced back together my puzzle pieces and saw that my preparation was not over. I had wanted to plant and be done, but I had a journey to walk through first. I wanted a title and a place, but there was so much more to learn and realize. It was at the dinner table around this amazing family that I finally decided to go to South Africa for the Field Journalism opportunity that so much has been built on. Without their open home I would have struggled to believe I could take the next step.

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