A quote on a bookmark and the title of a book. The bookmark: “Es curioso que la vida, cuanto más vacía, es más pesa” a quote from León Daudí. (Translation, based on my still growing knowledge of Spanish: “It is curious that life, when more empty, is heavier.”) The book: “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. The bookmark: a gift from a mentee who was part of PROMISE, finished her PhD at UMBC, and is now fulfilling her dream of a teaching and research career in South America. The book: a strong recommendation from a wise mentor, a professor and nationally respected administrator, who has traversed some of the same plains in the past that I am traversing now. The juxtaposition of the two messages itself is curious, mind-boggling actually. While some people know some things that have recently happened in my life, only God could have put these two things together at the same time for me to get the message. The bookmark was given to me as a gift, at *last* year’s graduation. The book was purchased 3 weeks ago. I started reading the book a few weeks ago, on the train as I returned from a meeting in DC. I wanted to keep reading the book the next day and needed a good placeholder, deeming the book too important to use a yellow post-it note as a bookmark. As I began to make my mad dash out of the house for the office the next day, with book in tow, I scanned the room and saw the lovely hand-painted bookmark on my mantle. I grabbed it and marked my place in the book, not even fully translating the painted words. As I began to delve deeper into the book, I began to also think about the words on the bookmark, wondering if there could be a connection that I hadn’t anticipated.
Today I finished the allegorical book, about a woman who undergoes a life-changing transformation. I don’t want to give away the story, because reading it is a journey in itself. There are many messages within the book, and I could write many posts about how different parts have inspired me. But the epilogue is the part of the book that now has my attention and gives me my answer to the book-bookmark connection. There is a section in these final pages that characterizes love as humility, giving, and service based on the author’s observations of a mighty waterfall. My paraphrase of Ms. Hurnard’s waterfall section in the epilogue “Lessons Learned on the Slopes of the High Places” (pp. 248-249): Willingly pour yourself down lower – and endure the fall – to deny self (having gained strength through positive and negative experiences) and to help others, pour-out life to give life and power to others, and give yourself to serve. Isn’t that what the bookmark’s quote says as well? Empty your life (give to others), and then it will have more weight. Two gifts, from two women – one of my mentees and one of my mentors, from two different backgrounds (humanities and science), from two different countries, in two separate years, are brought together to reveal one message. When people say that God speaks to them in mysterious ways, I’ll count this among one of those mysterious lessons from the High Places.
Muchísimas gracias a El Señor, la Dra. L”V”C y la Dra. KM