The more we travel the more I believe that the story of one life is really made up many other people's stories and how they intertwine, come together, and cross paths with the own roads we're on. Lately I have stayed with so many wonderful hosts with such unique stories to share. Last week I stayed up late every evening visiting with my hosts- a couple whose husband was from Whales, and his wife from Indiana. On the second night they wanted to take a picture of us to put on their "International wall"- a wall in their home in which to hang memories of many visitors from all around the world. They welcomed in a young man from Brazil to be part of their family and home for a year when he needed a place to stay after being stranded in an airport and brought home by their son with no advance notice! At one point they were telling me that there was one Christmas day in which Eileen, the wife was the only American around the table full of company! Luckily, with a British background, we made pot after pot of tea together as I listened to their stories. They told me that if they couldn't travel to every country- live in every culture- then the best way to come to learn and know a different culture was to make your home open to people from different places. I thought that was a neat way of looking at it. We'll never get to see the world- let alone all the places we'd like to in this lifetime- but what a wonderful way of learning about them...really, I guess that's what our hosts do upon meeting us right? I should also add that my host proposed to his wife within 24 hours of meeting her and they have been happily married and totally in love for almost 30 years now since then. Isn't that incredible? A love so instant but yet so strong?
I also stayed with a family when I came back from vacation who were wonderful to get to know. Sometimes it surprises me just how much people open up and share with you when just a few hours ago you were complete strangers. I'm glad they do though and I believe it's teaching me and encouraging me to be more open as well. The husband as he drove me home started talking about how the children had changed him and moved him- and how when he looked at me doing what I'm doing at my age he started to look back to the place he was at in his twenties. He started to share about how many years he'd wasted away back then, and how selfish he'd been, and how it was too late to change that. Yes, it is too late to change the past. I was reading a book the other day that said if we continually let our minds wander back to the negatives of the past then we will always be living in a negative place, reliving those emotions and never coming out of them to face today. I told him that yes the past is gone- the chance at changing it gone. But the future? The today? It's not too late for that. He went on to say that he hoped he wouldn't loose the change in him brought about by the children once we'd moved on. And then he couldn't talk anymore- getting frustrated with himself for being so emotional and choked up infront of me he turned away and drove until he broke the silence by saying "Laura you're a cool girl. That's I can say."
I hope if you're reading this, and you know who you are, I've thought a lot about that stay- and you're pretty cool yourself."
"Never let the story die" were the words of the missions pastor from my home church when I met up with him for coffee on my vacation. May that be true for all of us.