Is it just me, or aren’t we all always transforming? Oh sure, I can pinpoint the major transformative moments in my life – going into the Peace Corps, becoming a mother, selling my first book. But if I think about it, there have been dozens, no hundreds, heck maybe thousands of smaller but equally as transformational events in my life.
My first trip out of the country might have been one. I was 15 and went to Israel as an exchange student, and came back convinced I wanted to move to Israel and join the Israeli Army. (I also wanted to eat nothing but hummus and wear nothing but sandals for the rest of my life.) And although that never happened, that first trip abroad is what might have set me on a path of travel that has transformed my life. (And I still really enjoy a good hummus and a nice pair of sandals.) Then there was my sophomore year in college, I was a quiet, earnest student senator, when a bunch of lefty radicals came and asked me to speak up for them in the Senate. And suddenly I opened my mouth – and who knew? – an eloquent, slightly radical lefty campus politician emerged and before I knew what had happened, the champion of free buses to anti-nuke rallies was born! Later, I’d become President of the Student Association, successfully sue the state of New York for student voting rights, run for mayor and get arrested for protesting a war! And let me tell you, ten days in a prison cell can be a pretty transformational experience too! (Four women, one stainless steel table and a Yahtzee game – you do the math! To this day I still shudder at the sound of rolling dice!)
But the transformations didn’t end in my younger years. I can’t tell you how many friends who know me now can’t quite recognize the “thoroughly First World gal” that I portray myself as in FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. But that’s because they know the somewhat hardier woman who I have become. Of course, a couple of years of living without electricity and running water – throw in a civil war or two – will change anyone. But even in the relative comfort of my life in America (where hot and cold running water have replaced hot and cold running cockroaches!) – there are still events that have transformed me. Writing my first column (and getting fan mail!) turned me into a “real writer.” (Why, oh why is it that we seem to need validation from others to see who we really are?) Taking over a Sunday School in the aftermath of September 11 turned me into someone who felt called to be a minister; and although I attended Divinity School and was ultimately ordained, it was officiating at my first few weddings (you mean, I have the power to make sex legal???) that made me a Minister. And it was performing my second funeral that made me truly ministerial.
I continue to be transformed almost daily. After all, change is the only constant in life. And some days it seems like the only thing that is consistent about me is my inconsistencies. Sometimes I do worry about poor St. John, though. Surely he had no idea what he was getting into when he married me. And after being married to me (in all my various incarnations) for more than 17 years, it’s a pretty good bet that he still doesn’t!
p.s. Happy Birthday to my Prince Charming!