“Do you see that bright one? Good. Now look to the left, like at the 10 o’clock position… do you see the dim lights? There are two of them… now look up and to the right, there’s a cloudy shape…”
Never in my life could I have expected this, but there we were nonetheless.
Standing in the middle of an empty field that was outlined by 40-foot tall pine trees, we stared into a clear September sky above us full of streaks of light waiting to be noticed. I had never been this far north, nor had I stood in the wild with a science teacher. All of Estonia slept around us, for it was well past midnight. No, this moment was just for the four of us.
How did I even get here? It seems there is so much in me that is still searching, still wandering… there is still so much in me that need to see that good wins, that love is stronger than fear.
Cody and Hannah are dear friends from my time in Illinois. Their life has taken them for at least a brief time to working in southern Estonia. In a moment of spontaneity, I accepted their invitation to come visit, and hopped on a plane to Tallinn, the capital city. We spent a long weekend together, in which I learned a great deal about the life, culture, and story of people from this mysterious Baltic land.
We explored old cities and had dinners with new friends. We adventured with zeal, but that is not the end of it. There were also times of quiet. There were also times of sitting in the cold halls of an abandoned soviet hospital, cataloging the parts of my life that match the less-than-charming architecture of the USSR.
There are still parts of my heart that are cold, empty, and grey. Prone to discouragement, wallpaper pasted around in attempt to distract from the crumbling reality underneath. It shouldn’t surprise me to find these parts; I’m human. And yet, it still does.
And you may not like it, but you need it, really. You need the backdrop of cold, stone walls, if you want to recognize the warmth of a roaring fire and the grace of drops of starlight that later come your way.
It’s the evasive theme of your whole year, and it has found you again: Grace.
It was hiding somewhere between a long walk into the Latvian countryside with a friend that is seeking truth as fervently as you are and the realization that it is the third night in a row that you stayed up past 2 am.
It was in the middle of the fireplace, while a group of young people excitedly made S’mores and practiced their German with you. It was on the table, when you played Saboteur around a table with Taivo and Siim, while you dream about an end to poverty in the Eastern Block.
And it was out there with you in a dark field, while, with your friends Cody and Hannah, a new Estonian friend Katrin showedyou the stars, naming them… showing you beautiful meaning in what before was random.
It turns out that you needed some naming of your own.