I’ve been unpacking for the past four weeks. While my dirty laundry is long-since washed and my suitcase, shoes and toiletries are all put back in their places, I am still in the process of unpacking from my experiences in recent weeks. My soul, heart and mind are so full that I’ve found it difficult to write. But today, like finding a dresser drawer with a bit of room to put away clean laundry, I have found a bit of space in which to finally begin the process of unpacking.
I had the blessing and honor of traveling to Monaco, France and Italy with my sister — an incredible whirlwind of sights, smells, tastes and emotions over twelve jam-packed days. I witnessed firsthand the magnitude of history that is simply not possible in my west-coast US life. I stood in St. Peter’s Square with thousands of pilgrims and experienced a sense of joy, unity and community that transcended any differences in our understanding of God. I smelled and tasted exquisite food and drink — fish, pasta, coffee, wine and gallery-worthy displays of gelato; all created from a true passion for la dolce vita. I stood and sensed the vibration of the millions of souls (and soles) that had walked on the same centuries-old cobblestones that were now under my very own feet. I even went sailing, for goodness sake, on a racing boat on the Mediterranean Sea! My fingers actually touched the rich wood of a door that was hung hundreds of years ago, as well as stone walls and marble columns that were erected over many lifetimes. And oh, the art! Mind-numbing masterpieces in fresco, stone, bronze and oils on floors, walls, stories-high ceilings and even on bridges. All soul-moving, heart-filling and senses-exploding experiences! The question, almost haunting me: How can I really take this all in?
Upon arrival home, I felt transformed, as if something in these experiences fundamentally shifted something deep within myself. All of it just seemed too big, too grand, too much for this mere mortal. Over these weeks, I’ve felt some inexplicable need to do something with all of it. Not doing as in an action, but doing in terms of putting it all away — finding space someplace in my being for it. And, I’ve been stuck for weeks. How can I possibly assimilate these amazing, not-your-average-twenty-first century-Renton-Washington-United States experiences into the pre-trip version of Lisa? Like the shy introvert that I am, it’s been sort of like becoming acquainted, slowly, with a new friend, who, by the way, is now part of myself. She, whose heart had felt a split-second connection with the soul of the artist who painted or sculpted the masterpiece so long ago; who saw it through new eyes, like the groups of present-day school children who gathered into the churches and museums on field trips. It’s like I’ve needed these weeks to get to know her over tea, in long walks and in whispered heart-conversations while huddled under my covers in pre-dawn hours.
Then, it came to me: this process of ‘unpacking’ is much like the process of photosynthesis. The plant takes in the light and does something with it. According to Wikipedia, it’s a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that can be later released ‘to fuel the organisms’ activities.’ The word itself, from the original Greek is φῶς, phōs, “light”, and σύνθεσις, synthesis, “putting together”. A constant process of putting together light. I read that the average rate of energy captured by photosynthesis in our world today is approximately six times larger than the current power consumption of our human civilization! Talk about transformation!
Eureka! That’s IT! In what I now know will be a long-term process, as I open myself like a plant in the garden to that which so moved me in my travels – that light – the energy of this can be assimilated first into myself, and then, miracle of miracles, when released, it can alter the very air around me.
And so, I share this with you in hopes that this putting together of the light that so stirred me, will also stir something in you, for your benefit. Is this not the calling for all of us? Whether our hearts are touched by experiences in Europe, or in our own back yard; in the grand display of the most spectacular of natural wonders, or in the tiny puckers as seen in the knuckles of a newborn baby — as we open ourselves to all of this, whatever this is for each of us, an energy of sorts is created and something actually happens. We, and those around us are transformed.
It is from this new realization that I ask an important question to you, and to myself today: What, in my own life, can I begin to unpack; to synthesize, for the essential benefit of my light-dependent self, and for those around me?
Oh, and while I’m at it, I’d love to share a small sampling of photos from my trip with you! Enjoy and be transformed, as I was.