Exactly Who I’m Meant to Be

I just got back from the RubyWoo Pilgrimage, where I spent four days learning about the intersectionality between race, voting rights, and faith. I have a lot to process and sort and am curious to see where this journey takes me. In the meantime, I had a SheLoves piece scheduled and was surprised at which moment hit home. It wasn’t part of the planned pilgrimage but an unexpected space in the middle of New York City. Here’s an excerpt – I hope you’ll head over to SheLoves for the whole story.

annie-rim-i_m-still-that-19-year-old-2Recently, I had two hours to myself in New York City. This is special for many reasons, but especially because I hadn’t wandered a city by myself in over a decade. I spent my college years in Paris and my twenties exploring the world. Family life has since taken over my travel habits and I always have a companion on my adventures.

I was in the city with the RubyWoo Pilgrimage, a group of women learning about the intersectionality of voting rights, race, and faith. I debated joining others for lunch and exploring but knew I needed to set out alone. I walked a couple blocks in the drizzling rain, stopped into a shop for a vibrant pink umbrella, and continued on my way.

As I opened the umbrella and navigated my way through the crowded streets, nostalgia hit me. I spent hours of my college years walking the streets of Paris just like this, sneakers wet, umbrella low over my head, finding solitude in the crowds. I remembered how to jaywalk and pass slower pedestrians, stretching muscle memory my suburban life had forgotten.

I walked until I spotted a tiny coffee shop with a hipster hedgehog on its sign. It was narrow with a few hightop tables and a long bar looking out onto the sidewalk. I ordered a cafe au lait (something I would regret at two in the morning) and settled in for journaling and people watching.

As I watched, I played the what-if game. What if I had moved to New York after college instead of letting the mountains lure me back to Denver? What if our kids were raised in this environment? What if I never married but was able to live the (seemingly) freer life of a city professional? What if … ? Head over to SheLoves to read the rest and join the conversation!

What about you? What are your “pink umbrella” moments?

Taking Time to Remember

One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed was on our early morning game drive in Chobe National Park, Botswana. The sun was rising and we rounded a corner to see an elephant leaning his head against a tree, his posture slumped. A few feet away was the carcass of another elephant.

Our driver told us that the elephant was in mourning. When one of the herd dies, family members return to the spot to stop and remember. The elephant leaning against the tree was creating a memorial.

Elephant in mourning
Elephant in mourning

It was a sacred moment and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It reminded me that the entire earth is created in God’s image and that animals aren’t so different from humans.

It also reminded me of the importance in taking time to remember. In the busyness of life, I often forget to stop and remember – big moments, small moments, losses, and celebrations. They are all worthy of acknowledgement.

In her collection of essays, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor talks about stopping to make altars – of taking the time to notice. She cites the ancient idea of building an altar to commemorate an event and challenges the reader to do something similar by stopping, looking, noticing, and remembering.

Especially when I get bogged down in daily routines, when I stop and mark those moments, I am able to step back and see the strands of a bigger picture. Because it’s easy to forget, I’ve started a list in my journal – nothing in detail, just notes jotted down of moments I want to remember. I hope, when I look back, it will help me create an altar to my journey.

How do you remember important events? Do you create altars – through writing, painting, or other creative ways?