As I’ve thought about how to sum up our experiences here in Leiden this year, this quote came to mind again and again. There has been a lot of effort over things that don’t seem important or deeply meaningful, but there’s also been so much beauty that the effort itself (perhaps only in the haze of hindsight) can seem beautiful.
|Leiden in the late afternoon, in December|
So now that I’ve shared a little of the effort, let me share a little of its beauty.
|In the Escher Museum|
Breakfasts: We sit down to pancakes pretty much every morning.
|Making my mom's Greek Easter bread|
Most of a first year of marriage: So much learning how to communicate, learning to be a team, learning to take care of each other, laughing, dancing, learning to love each other and this world better every day.
Making Friends: Nothing makes you feel more at home than this.
Cultural celebrations: This week I saw a parade with the royalty in their golden carriages, various military groups in gorgeous formal attire and dozens of children dressed in traditional dutch clothing, complete with little hats, bonnets and wooden shoes.
Houseplants: our "boompje" (little tree) is now taller than me!
Learning together: Besides learning Dutch, and learning from all the museums we go to, over dinner or breakfast sometimes we take part in online courses, the best of which was Barbara Oakley’s Learning How to Learn. We’re looking forward to a lifetime of learning together.
Our plan had been to stay in Leiden two years, and if we stick with that plan we have less than 12 months before we’ll need to move on. Owen recently was given the word that the University will happily extend his contract for up to five years total, so we could stay here much longer than we had planned. We’re not sure what we think about that, and we have a few months to think it over, but it’s made us do a lot of thinking about our time here. Do we want to stay? Is it the right choice for both of us? It's a real adventure learning to trust God, and trust each tother, but we know one thing for sure. If it's for just this next year or if it's for longer, we love it here, and it’s getting better all the time.
I didn't include it in the list, but I will say it here. Visits have been some of the best parts. Some of you are already planning trips, and we can't wait to see you. But if you’ve been thinking of coming to Europe, we’d love to show you around. We’ll share a little of the effort and the beauty of life here in The Netherlands.