|A woman carries a loaf of bread home, near the orphanage.|
Life here is lived 'at the pitch that is near madness', as one of my favorite poems so aptly puts it. You cannot live here and not be awake. Depressing? Yes. But hardly forgettable. It is a place of profound loss and, therefore, a place ripe for redemption.
And did I mention that I am in love with her?
Not the easy kind of love, but the kind that beats you down and grinds you in a crucible. The kind of love that transforms you because, well, it hurts. It is like that Shakespeare's sonnet, where he so perfectly describes the 'fever' that is his love. It is a fever. It burns. It hurts. And yet it also purges something in you.
Siberia, I love you.
I'm sure this confession must come as a surprise, after my week of moaning and homesickness, but those are just the birth pains. They go hand-in-hand with this journey-romance. What value can love truly have if there is not some honest suffering? God knows it. We tend to forget. But nothing transforms us and thrusts us forward like suffering does. Myself? I crave it like I crave sunlight in winter. I seek it, because I know what gifts it brings.
Our American world of quick fixes and fast answers and comfy couches and shiny new cars stands in stark contrast to the concept of suffering. We Americans not only, as a whole, detest personal suffering, we think of it as a long, lonely spiral in the wrong direction -- the direction we are not headed towards. But this is sadly so far from the truth. Suffering, true suffering of the heart and spirit, is a spiritual gift that catapults us into the arms of God.
Thank you, Russia, for sharing your pain with me. Thank you, Siberia, for the cold and luminous face you turn to me. Thank you, God-Of-All-That-Is, for counting me worthy of such a rare journey. I am grateful with each step up this steep hill.
|My daughter, walking along the road of her childhood.|