This may soon be a very different world


In the summer of 1999 I spent a week in New York, sleeping on a former newspaper colleague’s couch in Brooklyn.

I remember the two pairs of shoes I bought there: soft gray boots and three-inch platform black sandals. I walked everywhere around the city in my Japanese cotton dress and those black New York City sandals.

On a Tuesday that July, I visited Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, drawn to the stories of pilgrimage, longing and new beginnings.

This morning, while paging through some old writing, I found these words from a plaque at Ellis Island:

“But there was never a period when the spirit of restlessness was so generally abroad over the world as it is now .. And this very restlessness, combined with the ease with which human beings can now travel, suggests that this may soon be a very different world than it has ever been.” -February 13, 1910.

I did not know by the end of that year my own world would be completely different.

Question: What’s been your biggest life change? How has it affected you?

Photo credit: Wong Mei Teng

  • shannon

    I guess geographically it’s the move I’m about to make from the US to RSA (I’ve done it several times before for a couple of months at a time, but this is a 15-18 month commitment). But honestly, the greatest change came in my own city. Several years ago in my early 20s I moved from the mostly-white suburb I’d grown up in to a low-income, historically black community in the heart of the city. For several years I lived, worked and worshipped there. People took me in and made me their own. I learned to braid hair and make corn bread; most of what I know about justice, forgiveness, patience and worship I learned there as well. It is still home, and those folks are family. And it was 12 miles from where I grew up.

  • idelette

    I love this, Shannon. I especially like: “I learned to braid hair and make corn bread; most of what I learned about justice, forgiveness, patience and worship I learned there as well.” I can hardly wait to read about your experiences in Cape Town.

  • Erin Wilson

    I’m just on the cusp of this new world. I have 16 more work-days left in a well-paying, well-pensioned job of 17 years. Leaving (the pay and the pension) so that I can eventually spend a couple months a year in Africa. Leaving so that I can explore my life, my faith and my Lord. Leaving so that I don’t end life with the words “What if…” on my lips. Leaving to face down fear. Leaving to embrace a more whole life.

    Few understand. I’m fine with that. :)

  • idelette

    Oh, Erin! I am thrilled and a little nervous for you–like right before you do that bungee jump leap off the bridge. I am so loving your and Shannon’s responses. Big Moves. Big Changes. What fabulous women you are. I am so excited to meet you, finally, on this journey.