Back in the U.S. of A.

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We have been stateside since Sunday night and are still in the process of battling the worst jet lag either of us can ever remember having, waking up at 3 a.m. still exhausted but unable to fall back asleep. I think it’s as much the disorientation that comes from the abrupt end to our long trek.

The first inkling that re-entry into ordinary life would be rough came our first morning home in Strasbourg: not once but twice I woke up having no idea where I was! The same thing happened to Andrew. And, curiously, that didn’t happen to either of a single time during the whole course of our pilgrimage. Our apartment looked smaller, and all the comforts of home I’d been looking forward to more and more toward the end lost their luster. I suppose it’s a kind of culture shock, really. When you’re used to the sky as your walls and ceiling, even the coziness of home can start to feel suffocating.

Now back in America the culture shock and disorientation is compounded. None of the three of us has been in our homeland for over a year. I’m startled every time I hear someone on the street talking in English (don’t they realize I can understand every word they’re saying?). I feel bombarded by the advertising and the lights—another thing we were largely able to avoid in our 70 days of walking through countryside. Even the tray tables on the planes had full-color ads on them! America doesn’t have buildings anywhere near as old as Europe’s, but oddly the modern stuff is older: our infrastructure, power lines, high rises are creaking with the early old age that besets factory-built things, while most of Europe’s modernity is since the Second World War, and even more of it since the 60s. I hadn’t expected America to look old to me after seeing Roman ruins.

But perhaps the most noticeable difference is that distances I once thought irritatingly far to walk are now a breeze—and I kind of wish they were farther.

For all that, it’s wonderful to be with family that we haven’t seen in far too long, and we’re looking forward to our visit to Augsburg College for Founders Day tomorrow and Thursday. If you’re in the neighborhood please drop by! Here’s the schedule—and you’re welcome at all the events.

Wednesday, November 10
5:45 p.m.   Reception in Foss Atrium
7:00 p.m.   Lecture in Hoversten Chapel

Thursday, November 11
10:00 a.m.    Lecture in Hoversten Chapel
11:20 a.m.    Augsburg College Morning Chapel in Hoversten Chapel
12:00 p.m.    Luncheon in East Commons of Christensen Center

3 thoughts on “Back in the U.S. of A.

  1. My thoughts and prayers will be with you as I will attend a World Council of Churches Joint Consultative Group with Pentecostals on the topic of catholicity.
    And yes, the US can look old in many ways. Its churches also need reformation. Thank you for your ecumenical work.

    1. Congratulations on reaching your goal. You have had a once in a lifetime experience that in many ways has influenced you. Your blogs are very interesting and I’m intrigued by your reflections on your return to the USA. I look forward to seeing you back in Strasbourg and hope that you will tell the people of St Alban’s about your pilgrimage.Harold Nahabedian+

  2. Your Ecumenical adventure was enthralling up and including the very end and I really enjoyed your picture history. What a wonderful adventure to have in you memory for the very rest of your lives. God Bless.’

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