It’s all the little things that I missed, but grew accustomed to not having that make my time home so rich: meals on my own schedule, coffee with real cream, tall glasses of real milk, an abundance of food in the fridge (abundance looks very different to me now), the ability to walk outside alone without worrying about my safety, the clean streets, and thick green stretches of foliage in the river gorge by my house.
I’m home! And it feels so good! I was so worried about coming home and the challenges of re-entering my own culture. I have actually been pleasantly surprised at how relaxing and peaceful it’s been. All of these little moments give me twinges of gratefulness. My first night in Yonkers, NY, my mom-in-law had the window open in the bedroom. “Close it if you get too cold. Or if you get too hot, close it and turn on the AC.” The option of sleeping with a window open at all was heavenly. To feel the breeze in the dark, cool and crisp. It felt so good after living in a closed-off cabin with a bolted shut porthole for 8 months.
Did I come back to the U.S. a different person? Changed, indeed I have. I don’t feel the same. I’m still thinking through what the difference is. Hours after arriving home and getting settled I realized I am created to serve. Technically everyone was created to serve, but there is a marked difference between being made for a purpose that’s never realized, to feeling empty and pointless without doing something to help someone else. I know that my life without serving my community will be empty. It’s part of who I am, maybe it’s a gift God gave me.
For the 8 months that the hospital was open, that was what we did. We woke up every day to help our patients feel loved and cared for. For the last 8 weeks of surgery, we had to clean the most intimate parts of our ladies on the ward. It is a deeply personal act of service. Yet, even that was my absolute joy.
It wasn’t until I got home with nothing to do that I realized I miss offering my excess to benefit others. We all have excess. Whether we notice it or keep our blinders on determines how grateful we are.