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racheldriedger

In Lieu of Travel

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

After finally coming home to a bed and the real North American life that lay dormant during my weeks traipsing through Europe, I discovered a sense of restlessness and impatience that lurked at the edge of my now, having a real mattress, very deep sleep. Before this, I had travelled across North America, but I had never been further than the shores of the Atlantic. Now I have seen Rome, Paris, and London, the great cities of our Western World. I have been infected with the travel bug. Along with this knowledge and cultural experience, I want to see more.
I miss the steady breathing of a tent mate beside me. I miss lying down after walking for miles during the day, grateful for that flimsy thermarest. I miss questioning everything and frustrating the teachers that would walk beside me in this experience. I miss pondering the meaning of what it is to travel and truly experience what is around me, as well as the meaning of pilgrimage and am I really on one, rather than using that simply as an excuse to participate in glorified tourism.
These cultures, these experiences, have shaped me. I come home with a new worldview, and a new mind. Assisi taught me to renounce entitlement. Rome taught me that power falls. Paris taught me that beauty is found in the least expected places, and so is pain. And the battlefields of the world wars taught me that remembering the past is one of the most important things I can do for my generation. Wisdom is experienced and knowledge is making itself  heard through the heart and eyes of a perpetual student.
I pray that I will be wise.

Rachel

A road leads a visitor gently in.

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

A recurring thought and a prayer that has been on my mind and heart has been of city walls.  I’ve seen all manner of self protection and governance, from the walls and Papal power of Avignon and Rome to the Medici dynasty and walls of Florence.  From the trenches and tunnels of Vimy Ridge to the high house and bunker of Adolf Hitler at Eagle’s Nest.  All of these methods are used to keep beauty and life in, and safe; to keep “others” out.
We each experience things in our lives that we believe no one could understand or appreciate.  We build walls and trenches to keep our hearts safe.  The more in depth, the thicker and higher our walls get.  But the beauty of our lives still deserves to be seen and heard.  If we let visitors in, though the line might be long and trying, they will see beauty beyond compare.   
This applies, too, to a bus full of people that call themselves community.  
I see high walls in people, fortified with standing armies.  
I am no exception.  
Yet I pray for true community, when the walls come crashing down and the treasure of life and the tombs of experience are opened, when all of that wonder seeps through the cracks and holes in the walls, and, like so many of the cities I have seen, a road leads a visitor gently in, and is not stopped for fear of an imaginary foe. 
When this is shared, and the “others” allowed in to see and experience wonder, it is called LOVE.  And that relationship is called community.

Rachel

Europe and the Town of St. Augustine

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

As a history student I see it as my task to search out and feel the past that I have been privileged enough to observe. In my wanderings of the familiar North America, I have discovered that the North American people are obsessive about their relatively young history. They protect it with high fences and stronggly discourage any kind of student to reach out and interact with that past. The oldest continuously occupied town in the United States of St. Augustine, Florida is such a place with its little cobblestone streets and a large Spanish Fortress that contains relics of it’s history. Now, if you’ve never been there you might not understand the comparison I am about to make. St Augustine is like Europe, at least the part I have seen from Barcelona to Rome, with a few exceptions. There are plentiful palm trees and places that a history buff can soak up and bask in, cobblestone streets and tiny shops that have been there for hundreds of years. But in Europe, history is relative, and these sites and important places are not fenced off and there is no date from which any particular country can place a finite beginning. One can reach out with a warm, sun burnt hand and feel the heartbeat of the past beneath their fingertips. I’ve walked amid Roman ruins and written poems in the lands of kings. I’ve seen the burial place of Raphael and breathed the same air, walked some of the same places, as Caesar. I’ve been able to change that heartbeat of history into an experience of my own, and continued the search for the handprint of God outside the textbook.

Rachel