I have been suffering from a severe case of writer’s block ever since leaving my host family in Swaziland almost four months ago. Even writing that makes me cringe; four months? But yes, it has been four months, almost to the date. And I have felt paralyzed, trapped, neither here nor there since then.
A few weeks ago, I attended a Re-Entry Event for all newly returned volunteers who participated in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. We talked about our stories, our experiences… where we had been. We talked about our fears, our current reality, our tears… where we were. We talked about our hopes, our dreams, our future… where we were going. But for me, most importantly, we talked about the transitions between each of those stages; the in-between time.
Our program director described this time as being similar to learning how to be a trapeze artist. Slowly, painfully, throughout the last year we have learned how to hold onto the trapeze by ourselves, carefully advancing from simply hanging on for dear life to swinging confidently through the air. But now, at the height of our confidence, we must let go of the trapeze. We must let go, soar through the empty air, and trust that a big burly man will be on the other end, ready to catch us in his arms and swing us to even higher heights.
I was quite happy to be swinging away on my trapeze. Now I find myself in mid-air, looking frantically for my big burly man to appear and catch me. I don’t know where he is, I don’t know what he looks like, I don’t know if I will even be able to grasp his arms. But I do know that I cannot go back; it is not possible to turn around in mid-air; I am in motion. I have let go of my trapeze.
I focus on the feeling of wind in my face, the light in the distance, the gentle murmurings of promises to come, the confidence that assured me it was okay to let go of my trapeze in the first place. I know there is a safety net below, but I will myself not to look at it; it is enough to know that it is there. I am waiting for my big burly man. He will be there, I am sure of it, just as I am sure that the trapeze I left behind was solid and real and not a figment of my imagination.
As for now, the in-between time, I will wait, and soar, and fly.