Epilogue: Leaving My Mark
August 16, 2014 – 1:00 pm (EST)
Thank you for reading (or re-reading) my reflections from Lima. It has now been two weeks since I left Hogar San Francisco de Assis and ventured back into Lima for a few days of relaxation before returning stateside. As it turns out my body had different plans. Less than 24 hours after arriving at the hotel I literally crashed. I began running a high fever, my head was congested and let’s just say I spent a good portion of each day in the bathroom. I knew even at the time that I had not contracted anything serious during my service. Rather it was the culmination of pushing myself so hard for three months with virtually no let-up. All the courses I taught, the multiple trips to Michigan to secure a job and a place to live, moving all my things out there, all the goodbyes and finally my service at the orphanage…it all caught up to me and my body informed me in no uncertain terms that it was ready to slow down. So my time of “relaxation” could better be described as a feverish delirium, shivering under the covers, flat on my back. Certainly not enjoyable but fairly predictable.
To tell you the truth something about it just seemed “right.”
I was preparing to come back to the States, grab my pick-up and make the final drive out to Michigan whereupon I would begin my new life. It became for me a purging of sorts. A way to close out the chapter on the last four years — very good years — spent in Superior, WI. where wounds healed, excess weight was shed, friendships were formed, professorial skills were honed and the “closet” that had kept me in a self-confined imprisonment for so long was finally closed and locked BEHIND me forever. It was my experiential way of saying all of that was closing out and it was time to start again with a clean slate. And so it was. By the morning of my departure I had mostly healed and was ready not just to return to the U.S. but also to move forward.
Before I left HSFA I was privileged to participate in an honored tradition. All the kids that stay there and all the volunteers that serve there upon their departure, are allowed to leave their hand print on the walls and ceiling of the dining room. I remember the first morning I came downstairs and saw those I wondered how I would feel when my turn came andI dipped my hand in the paint, climbed the ladder and left my print. It was a great moment and of course the symbolism was not lost on me. I was literally leaving my mark at the orphanage but hopefully,in some very small way, I left a positive mark on the hearts & memories of those I served. But that has not always been the case. There were seasons in my life when my pain was so profound, my needs so great and the cost of living a lie so significant that I know those around me and who served under me must have experienced me as a “mixed blessing” at best. The marks I have left in my life have not always been positive and the memories of those times still hurt today. What I have striven to do is learn from those difficult moments, care for myself in very real ways and try to be a better man going forward. My hope is that in those places, moments and lives where my mark was not so positive, that over time I might be viewed in the larger context of my life and that some good emerges. I guess that’s the hope we all hold onto.
Meanwhile, I must move forward. Reflect, learn, purge, grow, improve.
So here I sit. In two days, I will begin life at a new university where I have been given an unbelievable opportunity to work hard, share what I know, impact lives and hopefully…hopefully, leave a lasting and beneficial mark on my world.