I have been re-reading Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter as I have done every summer for the past seven years. It is my favorite book. One that speaks new truths to me every time I pick it up. It is a story of living in grief, love, and work, and it is a story of gratitude for a life lived. If you’ve not read it, you ought to.
As I re-read it, I began to think of my time that I have spent here in Uganda. I began to think of the grief, the love, and the work of this place. I began to think, too, of the end quickly approaching.
I leave to return to the States in four days. It is hard to believe how quickly the time has gone in this place, and yet it feels as though I have lived here more than two years. This place and these people are a home to me, and now I must leave them. I must learn to feel at home someplace that does not know my life here, and that will be hard. I am not complaining, for this, too, is my story of gratitude, this, too, is my “giving of thanks.”
As I read through Hannah Coulter, I thought of the love that has grown here amongst people who arrived as strangers. It is a love for each other that, for many of us, will last forever. It is a love of understanding, a love of knowing the same truth and seeing the same things and living in the same place. “Sometimes too I could see that love is a great room with a lot of doors, where we are invited to knock and come in. Though it contains all the world, the sun, moon, and stars, it is so small as to be also in our hearts. It is in the hearts of those who choose to come in. Some do not come in. Some may stay out forever. Some come in together and leave separately. Some come in and stay, until they die, and after.” – Hannah Coulter
This is my giving of thanks to those here who loved and drew love from me, and it is my giving of thanks to you who supported and loved me and enabled me to live in this place.
I am so grateful for these two years here, and I pray I am better for them. Thank you for the sacrifices that were made that enabled me to live and work here. When I return to the States I will get married, teach part time, and do a number of other part time jobs while I adjust and continue to look for full time work. It will be a new adventure, and another reason to give thanks. If you would like to be part of my transition back to the states, I will continue to receive a salary through RCE until October, and I would be grateful for your continued support in this time.
I look forward to returning home and re-connecting with you all, and I am grateful to have shared this journey with you.