Journals and Letters week 6: Traveling the United States
In this section, Mother Theodore gives examples of the weariness in traveling in a foreign country without speaking the language, from the nuisance of not understanding servers, to the mistakes that she makes trying to converse with American sisters. The exhaustion of living surrounded by a foreign language resonated with me. I had a kindred experience in college when I traveled to France. I had a conversational grasp of the language. But it was still exhausting and frustrating to have so many discussions go over my head or be half understood. Again, I am impressed by the courage of Mother Theodore and the rest of the sisters in making their journey to an unknown land, despite the difficulties and the many challenges that lie ahead of them after they reach their destination.
In addition to new language and culture, it is also interesting to see Mother Theodore’s observations of the technological age she is passing through. She uses crisply vivid descriptions. She describes the trains they take and the tunnels they pass through thus: “you see the engine rush into a box made expressly for it, but fitting so exactly that if a living creature were there, it would be crushed before having time to see what was coming” (42). I love the window that Mother Theodore’s playful and descriptive writing offers. She approaches the world with such a desire to observe and learn, traits that surely serve her well in her mission, as well as making her an engaging writer!
Passion for nature
Her writings also make her passion for nature apparent. We see this in her eagerness to describe the landscapes they pass. We also see it in her intense sadness at seeing trees cut from logging. She describes them as “corpses . . . awaiting burial” (45). There is a deep kinship with nature, and she sees God present in all that God has created. In describing the mountains they travel through, she concludes that their majesty is “so calculated to elevate the soul towards the Author of all things” (44). Her detailed descriptions of her experiences become a way to meditate on and pray thanksgiving for creation. Even as she appreciates the beauty, she recognized the dangers present in the mountains. Despite the bandits and steep cliffs, she again recognizes and trusts in God’s protection.
I look forward to reading more about their journey to Indiana. I’m interested to see their continued response to American culture as they encounter it. I’m excited to explore these experiences through Mother Theodore’s eyes.
Share your thoughts!
Do you have experiences in travel or in your daily life where you notice the details of your surroundings the way Mother Theodore does? How do you connect God to those moments?
What aspect of Mother Theodore’s journey stands out to you?
Please leave your comments below so we can keep the discussion going.
Next week > Nov. 21 week 7: page 45 On the Ohio River to page 53 In Indiana