From the very first story I learned to read by myself (The Three Little Pigs, if you were curious), I have loved books and would read any chance I got. One year when I was about ten, some family friends came over at Christmas time to exchange gifts. My brother and sister opened their cards and were delighted to see some cash flutter out of them. Hoping for the same, I eagerly ripped open the box I was given, just to see a stack of books-The Chronicles of Narnia. Don’t get me wrong, I always love getting new books to read. But I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that my siblings now had extra spending money that I didn’t.
You know what, though? My brother and sister spent their gift on something that they probably lost/ate/forgot about within a month. And that Christmas I was given a gift that I have cherished ever since (thank you Lind family!)
I saw my Narnia collection sitting on my dresser when I came back from Honduras in June, and I decided to read through them all again before going to Uganda. It has been years since I’ve opened these books, and they still make me smile after all this time.
Of course I started with The Magician’s Nephew. It tells the story (spoiler alert) of the creation of Narnia. As a kid this was never one of my favorite books, and I would usually just skim through it to get to the good stuff. As an adult, however, there were so many parts of the story that made me pause and think. And the part that really stuck with me was the chapter called “The Wood Between the Worlds.”
Without going too into depth, this chapter is when the two kids in the story are magically whisked away into these woods with lots of little pools of water, and they learn that each pool leads into a different world. The wood is the calm, quiet, in-between place, connecting all the worlds but not really a world itself. “‘It’s not the sort of place where things happen,’ Digory says later. ‘The trees go on growing, that’s all.'”
It was interesting to realize that the description of the woods felt strangely similar to my life right now. I am in between worlds; no longer in Honduras but not yet in Uganda, wrapping up my work in El Sembrador while starting to prepare for my new work at Petros Zoe. I can see the two pools in front of me, the one I just came from and the one I can’t quite jump into yet.
I think this is a feeling that many of us can relate to, especially this year when so many plans have had to remain on hold while the world came to a screeching halt. There are many of us who have just been sitting, waiting, until it’s time to jump in to whatever activity is before us. It can be frustrating, but it can also be, well, sort of nice.
The two kids in the story are so affected by the calm in the woods that they almost forget who they are and why they are there. I can relate to that too. It’s nice to be here, to spend lots of time with my family, to get more rest than I’m used to, to have time to read the books I want to read. Waiting isn’t always a chore. Sometimes I become alarmed by how easy it is to sink into complacency, almost forgetting who I am and where I’m headed.
And I can see, to the side of me, the pool that would lead me back here. The pool that would keep me close to family, that would lead to me being a foster parent right here in the U.S., if I really wanted to dive into it. In fact I see dozens of pools, all leading to different lives, different futures. Anything is possible, in this wood between the worlds.
But I know what I must do. The pool before me has been marked for me, and has been marked for many years now. There have been moments in my life when I hopped into the pool of my choice, but this time the path is very clear. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I think we need to get better at embracing the waiting. Sometimes it’s okay to sit and rest, to watch the trees grow and to reflect on all of the pools of opportunity in front of us. But we can’t stay in the woods forever. The time will always come when we need to stand up and make a move, to enter a world again and do what we were made to do.
That time is almost here for me. I feel myself standing at the edge of the pool, looking at my own excited and nervous reflection staring back at me. Nothing has changed in the woods except for me. I turn my gaze to the other pools around me. Some lead to worlds I have already experienced and loved. Some lead to worlds I will never know. I say goodbye to them anyway, wishing I could experience them all. When the time finally comes (and it will), I will stand tall and take a few steadying breaths.
And then I will dive in.