Distance is annihilated and prevents not the close and intimate association of two souls that are closely attached in heart even though they may be in two different countries.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 101)
Since mid-November, I was in the United Arab Emirates working on my residency documents. Due to needed government work, I have to stay in the UAE until some of the necessary papers are completed. While being in UAE and working at weird hours to fit the USA schedule, I was hoping to spend some time reflecting on few things and examine my capacities, life and spirit. It was an ideal situation as I was away from all the clutter, noise and distraction of the Silicon Valley market – fighting for innovation, competitive atmosphere, and a limited scope of activity based on mainstream interests. In the mist of all the musing, I thought of a wonderful idea: why not visit my friends in Europe while I’m on this side of the Atlantic Ocean? That idea has lit a powerful engine in my mind, and my blood was rushing so quickly in my body. I didn’t hesitate to reach out to my dear friends immediately and share the news!
I had very little expectation, and packed very light to make my journey as easy as possible. The goal, as stated before, was simply to see my friends. My planned route of travel were London, to Paris, to Munich and finally Kehl; a city that borders France and hugs Straßburg with the famous La Passerelle Mirmam.
On December 23rd, I sat on the plane leaving from Dubai to London. It was a surreal journey, and I was slightly nervous: It has been a while since I’ve last seen my friends, and most of my interactions with them have been through the Internet. I was not sure for a second whether this was a good idea. I landed in Heathrow, went through the passport check, and my first encounter of seeing my friend has completely changed my mind.
It was only during the summer that I have studied about the definition of true friendship. True friendship encompasses the qualities that help one grow and prosper, both spiritually and physically, through mutual support, encouragement and channeling hope, energy and inspiration to one another. Those qualities were found in the heart of those friends who have hosted my during my short trip to Europe. Those are the friends that made Europe feel like home. And every departure from their region or home felt like being homesick. Homesick not because I miss UAE, or USA, but homesick because I will truly miss those beautiful friends.
Despite the pouring rain of London, the lousy restaurant service and train service in France, and the ridiculous Winterpause of German stores – none of them have changed my mind of the countries and cities I’ve visited. For me, the cities and towns that I’ve visited carry the memory of the compassion, love, kindness, and generosity of my hosts and friends.
To the wonderful hosts, friends and family that have made my Winter journey and reflection beautiful and illuminating:
Thank you so much, and I love you all dearly.