I remember as the door to young adulthood sprang open, college graduation was celebrated, and then came my first teaching job, an elementary school. It was almost an inner city school having beautiful kids with a multitude of personal challenges. Poor things got an inexperienced teacher. . . but they were not inexperienced and before long the principal called me into her office. Apparently they “heard too much of me and my kids out in the hallway”. Ok. Time for reassessment. Silly me thought I could be a friend to the kids which resulted in a loss of discipline.
Humiliated, I returned to the classroom with a new determination. The poor kids did not know what ‘hit’ them. Chuckle. It was: "Sit in your desk with your hands folded and your mouths shut! I do not want to hear a sound!" That was the new starting point. No more ‘Miss nice guy’! So I discovered the age old lesson: you must have discipline and respect before you can have friendship. We really had a good fun year and I loved those kids and it was mutual.
After three years of teaching I had saved enough money to join my cousin in our plans to travel Europe together. Europe, a place of romance and intrigue. My cousin and I traveled together on a tour through some of the loveliest places on earth: Switzerland with its huge mountain crags and deep valleys, lakes spread out in the mountains like jewels sparkling God’s beauty at sunset; the Dolomites, a rugged mountain range expressing the creative beauty of God, stirred my soul. Each country had its own unique allure. It was a whirlwind tour through 11 countries. Whew!
After the ‘tour’, we hitchhiked around France. Both of us had studied French and were able to speak and understand the language pretty well. We stayed in auberges of all kinds. One auberge was in a mountain village run by an older gentleman who looked like a character out of Hemingway with grizzled face and half a stomach. His dialect was hard to understand, but we managed. The auberge was in need of cleaning, so cuz and I got busy, found implements and cleaned it. The owner was very appreciative, and he gifted us each with a fresh red apple to take on our explorations.
We had lunch near an old graveyard. It was an experience to explore it and read the words written upon the tombstones so very long ago. One in particular has stuck like glue in my soul; the engraving spoke “Ici rest une ange”. A small child had been buried there, and it touched my heart that one so young had left her loving family too soon. One realization that impressed me a lot in our travels in Europe was the youth of our own country; things were really historic on the European continent; some of our travels became a living history lesson.
One day we came across a cemetery, a sea of crosses and Star of Davids. Many American soldiers are buried there. They had fought in World War II to help save Europe from Hitler. Many of our young men and women gave up their lives in the blood soaked soil of Europe during that war. It was humbling and moving to see this vast sea of death represented there.
It was a remarkable trip in so many ways; however, returning home, I realized the goals set in eighth grade had been met. . . I had graduated college, worked three years, and traveled in Europe. I had no new goal to inspire me. . . a dangerous place to be. Work was still work and I enjoyed it, but where was a real purpose for my life? Was life just working and walking aimlessly through each day? It felt sad and unfulfilling. Depression set in~ until my roommate’s fiance’ introduced me to his roommate, Bill.