My dear friends and family,
Pete Seeger once wrote a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” based on Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible. He sings, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven”. These are very reassuring words to hear, especially as I am coming to the end of my volunteer year in Bradford, England. There are seasons of beginnings and seasons of endings. There are times to start new journeys and times to say goodbye. I am currently wrestling with the thought that I will soon say goodbye to my English community and start a completely new phase of my life upon arrival stateside. But what gives me peace is knowing that our lives are full of ever changing seasons. Saying goodbye is just a part of living life and means that you get to say hello to something new. When I initially signed up for this program I knew there was a definite end date, but it is still crazy that is nearly here. So I will soon say goodbye to Bradford and to the many people I have met, but I leave knowing that it has been a year full of love, laughter, weeping, dancing, mourning, celebrating, and planting roots. To end, here is a beautiful arrangement of Seeger’s song performed by one of the choirs from my alma mater, Luther College.
“Hey Erik. Welcome home from your year abroad! How was it?” I will inevitably be asked this short three-worded question numerous times upon my arrival back home, but it is not a simple question to answer. Though I will try my best, I will no doubt be searching for words to say. How will I be able to express and share everything that I experienced during my time in Bradford? I may not be able to, and that’s ok. I will have endless stories to share and memories to think back on, but I won’t be able to explain all of the ways that I’ve grown and changed. In fact, I don’t yet know all of the ways that this year has changed me, but I look forward to sharing my experience with all of you.
With that said, I must say a massive thank you to everyone who helped make this year so special. This extends to my family and friends, to all those who generously donated money, to First Lutheran Church, Decorah Lutheran Church in Decorah, IA and Hope Lutheran Church in Bozeman, MT, to the ELCA and the YAGM program, and everyone in Bradford that made me feel right at home. I couldn’t have had this experience without you, and for that I am and will always be grateful.
Just like that my year long journey is down to 24 hours. This has been one of the most influential experiences in my 25 years of life. I have seen amazing places, made lifelong friends and have been part of a community that will forever be home.
As always, peace and blessings,