Sunday, July 17, 2016

To arrive where we started and know the place for the first time

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice. 
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine 
Between two worlds become much like each other, 
So I find words I never thought to speak 
In streets I never thought I should revisit 
When I left my body on a distant shore. --T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Two Sundays ago, I had an unexpected opportunity to return to Cambridge.

Every summer, there is a program (Pembroke-King's Programme) that invites undergraduates from across America to study as a Cambridge student for 8 weeks. I participated in this program 6 years ago. (It's really interesting to look back at those first blog posts--I was so young then.)

Coming back to Cambridge--one day shy of 6 years exactly since arriving there for my first time--was, in many ways, a coming home for me. A coming full circle.

I decided to just soak in the day; to remember all that brought me to Cambridge and all that had transpired since those 6 years. A lot has changed. A lot has happened.

I have changed. I have become a different person.

The years have brought refinement. They have brought wisdom, strength, sorrow, joy, and experience.

And yet, as I stood at the base of King's College Chapel, filled with wonder, awe, and humility, I was reminded of a 19-year-old girl who did the same thing 6 years ago. She was uncertain about the future, wonderstruck and amazed by the beauty and magnitude of the world, and eager to save and savor the world.

In those respects, not much has changed at all.

And I have come to a better understanding of that girl from six years ago. After my mission, I felt like I had changed so much from the person I had been before that I never wanted to go back. Honestly, I felt a bit of contempt towards that nineteen-year-old I once was. But at Cambridge, it was a reminder of who I was--the goodness, the naivety, the striving.

I have become kinder to that girl. To the girl I used to be; the girl who used to be mine.

Hopefully I can continue to be kind to the girl I am now, while looking with hope towards the woman I am still becoming.

[With friends at Cambridge.]

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