Since my arrival in Vietnam, I have been graciously hosted by my friend, Claire Pierangelo, Charge d Affaires of the U.S. Embassy. Her lovely villa is nestled in the Tay Ho area among a group of residences where ambassadors and embassy staff from many countries reside. I am quite honored to be here and have been welcomed with open arms by both Claire and her family and the Vietnamese people who work with and for the international residents. For the past week, I have ventured out to explore Hanoi. I've visited museums, temples, and cultural exhibits. I've also spent a fair amount of time wandering the streets and alleyways of this remarkable, developing city. Throughout my time, it has been hard not to regularly think about the fact that within my lifetime, the U.S. Government carpet bombed this land and its people--and I've been struck by how open and accepting the Vietnamese people I've encountered have been to me. I've also developed a new respect for the Americans who choose to work in the foreign service. Those I have met, take great pride in their work to develop and encourage diplomatic relations with the people of Vietnam. Today I will bring my beloved Courage work to teachers from two international schools in Hanoi--Teachers who spend their days with the children of diplomats and citizens from around the world. I hope to "encourage" them to take heart in the important work they are called to do. These teachers have a great opportunity to help children learn to respect difference and tolerate those who do not share the same beliefs--- to get along and enjoy one another, and even become friends. It is a hopeful enterprise for us all, as it is a lot harder to advocate bombing people when they are your friends.
I'm actually quite good at all the externals when it comes to traveling...I've researched, made lists, found the perfect bags, checked the weather, packed (and repacked). I'm excited about all the new sights and sounds that will come my way. What I'm trying to get better at is the internal stuff...I am taking this trip as much to let go of things as to let new things in. I have spent the last 23 years taking care of my darling daughters. I know I will always take care of them in some way, but I also know that it is time to let go. Time to let them fly. They are ready and they need me to get out of the way....But it is so hard for me that I have to physically plant myself on the other side of the world in order to do it!
I'd also like to get better at letting things unfold rather than making them happen. I've always been good at making things happen, but something is shifting in me...I am entering a new phase of life and I'd like to revel in all that is for a while. I have so much to be grateful for. I'd like to, in the word's of poet Derek Wolcott, "sit and feast on [my] life" for a bit. As I write this, I can feel the love and support of all my beautiful family and friends. Although I am leaving, and letting go, I am also taking each of you with me in my heart. Now, I've got to get out of here...Namaste.
Last fall at the end of a lovely weekend in Portland with my dear friend Robin Gaphni, we overheard a woman comment on a group of children before us. We were walking down the street on a Sunday morning when we came upon a wedding party taking pictures. There was an adorable group of children in the mix-all decked out in matching outfits and enjoying their time in the limelight. The woman walking near us was struck by the scene and commented aloud, “Let that hold you.” Robin and I both smiled, having understood the significance of her words. Life is full of challenge and heartbreak. But even deep sorrow does not stand alone. It is punctuated with moments of grace and beauty—those memories and images that make us smile and even take our breath away. May those of you who choose to follow me on this journey find something here to hold you along the way. Namaste.