I bought my ticket back to the States on Friday. And then I cried.

I’d been putting it off (saying that I’m monitoring prices, yeah, that’s it, monitoring) allowing  me to pretend I live in two realities. One in which nothing will change and the other in which I’m gearing up to help host 15 Chinese students who will be in Denver the last two weeks in July {the former tour group leader in me is having the best time ever planning their two weeks! Many phone calls last week to the Denver Mint, the poorly named Pepsi Center, the Capitol, just name a few of the things they are going to experience} and move into a new season of life.

I also made a down deposit with the shipping company who will come on June 20th. I teach my last class June 21st. I board a plane June 25th. I celebrate a niece’s birthday on June 27th. And life goes on.


I taught at Beijing University (Bei Da) in their graduate school of international relationships from 200o to 2004 and on Saturday met with a former student who has returned after earning his PhD in the States. We decided to meet on the Bei Da campus for dinner Saturday evening.

The campus is resplendent now and I arrived early to wander and wonder.

BeiDa 2013

Parker Palmer says that “the soul is like a wild animal — tough, resilient, savvy,  self sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, an out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.”

When my soul emerged as I rounded the lake (after I’d charmed my way on to campus since I no longer have a teacher ID), I was a bit taken aback. I “sat silently” though my body moved and thought of Parker Palmer’s words. I knew this was a precious time with God.

I texted two former students with whom I’d had lunch with on a regular basis when they were my students. One now the mayor of Zhejiang, the other a professor of linguistics. They both texted back with fond memories of those lunches and the time we had together. And the Spirit whispered, You haven’t been here for years, yet your investment lives on. So it will be for this move. You need to go to keep building my kingdom and not worry about growing your own.


During dinner I thought the soul would recede as Alex and I hadn’t seen each other for years and we’d have a good deal of catching up to do. And we did. But I found that having stuck her nose out, my soul was brave enough to stay for dinner too.

We didn’t specifically talk about spiritual topics — but there was a connection that was based on both knowing and understanding two cultures. We meandered through Chinese and American concepts such as suzhi (素质), shang huo (上火) — which I now believe in! as I’ve been told repeatedly I have too much heat in my body, China town in Philly versus NYC, and the drivers test in China (they have recently added a fourth component : wenming 文明, meaning civilized, driving), road trips in the US, and other subjects I don’t normally talk about (his dissertation topic surprised me) with Chinese because of the political nature.

I know you might have glazed over that paragraph if you don’t know Chinese or China or really care to. And that is fine and good!

But as it was unfolding, my soul marveled at the gift I was given in that meal and the ways I have been influenced by China. Ways that geography can’t touch.


Thank you for the comments and help with operation “Let’s keep mosquitoes annoying and not deadly.” I loved reading the names of your people. The winner of the drawing is Mike and the two great kids he mentioned (well, actually the winner is the children who will not die due to Malaria)!


Has your soul made an appearance recently? What were the circumstances?

Leave A Comment

  1. Tom April 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Good to see you in Beijing recently.

    I understand the “soul-emerging” imagery. My first teaching experience here was in Liaocheng, and my memories from there are many and good. Last year, in February, I returned there to ship some things that LiaoDa had graciously stored for me, ship them to modern, new, scenic and clean Qingdao, our new home. I got off the bus after the long ride from Jinan, and the old city drug my soul out and sat it in the cab next to me. The bicycles; the flatness; real culture; I felt at home again.

    So much good happened there; many close friends still live there; many students and teachers loved us there; we loved them back, and they learned to love God more, I hope. Even after living for over a year in modern, new, scenic and clean Qingdao, our new home, I am drawn to the charm and simplicity of little lovely Liaocheng, and would live there again.


    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Tom, it was good to see you too. And thanks so much for sharing — I can just picture your soul sitting beside you in that cab!

  2. Rhonda April 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Understand what you are saying about the soul and crying about buying your ticket.
    I will probably do the same when the Father ever tells me to leave Mongolia and to move on. He is in control and you never know where, who or what he will give you in replacement of what you have now. May your soul find peace and enjoy in the next place. Safe travels when time and hugs as well. :)

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      Amy April 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rhonda :)

  3. Mike April 29, 2013 at 12:49 am - Reply

    My soul is feeling rather raw these days. Ever since I received word from the doctor that I have MS, I’ve found myself thinking about the blessings that I’ve been taking for granted, for decades!

    On one hand, my soul cries out for forgiveness, because of wasted time and opportunities while I was busy doing things that most likely have no eternal significance, thinking that I would always have time later to do the “important” things. (I would say “absolutely no eternal significance” except I know that He can use us even when we’re full of ourselves!)

    On the other hand I’ve found myself weeping in sorrow for the precious people around me who I have the wonderful privilege to love, who desperately need to know Him – and they don’t even know that their very life depends on knowing Him!

    Who would’ve thought that MS would give me the gift of a tender heart? Maybe I should’ve gotten it a long time ago!

    • Wendy April 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Love, tears and growth for both of us. :-)

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      Amy April 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Mike, the word raw is beautifully poetic in all of the ways it holds the gift and the sorrows you have expressed.

  4. Karin B April 29, 2013 at 8:06 am - Reply

    I love this post… and you reminded me of how much I appreciated Parker Palmer’s work, too.

    Transitions are curious things. I think when leaving Paris, I never *felt* the city as I ever had before. Everything seemed to take on a greater importance, and such a finality. I think part of me knew even then I would never see it again.

    As far as the human factor goes and how we touch others’ lives, well, yes. I think if we could see all the ripples of how it is that we touch other people, we would be quite surprised to see the quantity as much as the reach.

    As for my soul, it has certainly made an appearance, lol. There are days when I wish I could just put it back in a drawer for a while, but nope. It’s just a constant process, that education of the soul!

    Love as you wrap up those final moments in China, Amy.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      All I can say in response is love, love, love this! Thanks Karin and I’ll see you this summer :). love back!

  5. Mark Allman May 1, 2013 at 3:52 am - Reply

    I love how you soul made you monitor those prices for a few extra days. :) Amy, the souls you have touched….. what a privilege to watch from afar.

  6. […] live poetically when we, as Amy says, catch a glimpse of our soul. Or when we taste eternal significance in a cup of sour plum juice. Or when a strong a […]

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