Hmm. Well, I figured that since I haven’t been around in a good month, now would be as good a time as ever to update the blog a little. (I’m blaming the whole craziness/wonder/excitement/what have you of studying abroad for the lack of consistent blog activity.) Today officially marks day 80 of our #100daysinSpain, meaning that we have so little time remaining in this adventure. It’s been an absolutely wild ride. Since my last post, we’ve traveled to both the north and south of Spain, getting to see the cities of Córdoba, Sevilla, Málaga, Granada, and Barcelona over the course of 9 days, which was incredible and fueled many an Instagram, which I’m sure the world is well aware of at this point in life. We’ve gotten to walk along beaches in November, watch a flamenco tablao, visit one of the most famous (and still currently under construction) basilicas in the world, visit the site of the 1992 Olympics, and visit Hillsong Church Barcelona among a myriad of other exploits. It’s honestly unbelievable to think about, even writing this blog post. So, yeah, studying abroad, I would highly recommend that. You won’t regret it for a second.
But amidst all of our adventures, there’s also been a lot of time for reflection, which is something that continues to surprise me about Spain Term. I never would have thought I’d have so much down time to just think about life and the world and the things that God is doing in our lives on a semester of study abroad. That’s just not really what you picture when you think about it.
Hence, we’ve arrived at the title of this blog post. One overwhelming thought that I’ve had over the past few days is that it’s so good to be alive right now, a thought that while simple, encapsulates so many different things in so many different contexts. It also happens to be the title of a really good (albeit a little older) Jason Gray song that you should probably listen to at some point in the near future.
First of all, it’s good to be alive because we still have a few weeks left before we return stateside, and while I’m definitely excited to go home, I’m just not sure I’m quite ready yet. So I’m thankful that we still have a little time left in this wonderfully little city that we’ve been so fortunate to call home for the last 80 days. Yes, Minneapolis, I miss you, but Segovia still has me for a little longer.
And it’s good to be alive because there’s still this amazing sense of wonder that you feel when you get to walk past a 2000 year old aqueduct every day on your way to and from class, an aqueduct that is still standing and still functioned until the 19th century. If that’s not crazy and if it’s not good to be alive in a city like this, then I think you need to reevaluate your life expectations.
It’s good to be alive when you get the opportunity to worship with a body of believers 3000 miles away from home in a church that shares a familiar name. That might be a little cliché, but I still it speaks to a little piece of what the church is supposed to look like, a body of people united around the world, able to love and welcome people in just because you already share that one common denominator. Yeah, they didn’t really like our selfie taking, but hey, it was freaking Hillsong. Also, the church may or may not have met in a club off hours, so that’s also a thing.
Even more, it's good to be alive in the purest sense after having turned in a paper written about the first time you were suicidal and how you got to that point. It's so good to be alive knowing that at one point you weren't sure if you wanted to be anymore, if it was worth it to keep living or not. It's good to be alive when you reflect on some of the darkest times and places in your life, knowing that you were fighting a war and knowing that you won, that you overcame the things that told you that death was the better option. It's good to be alive.
And you know that it was all worth it and that it truly is good to be alive when you get to experience love in a variety of its forms, whether that’s getting coffee as a group in a cozy Spanish cafe, getting random texts from your host mom, linking arms with a friend as you walk home through misty cobblestone streets, being able to spend a solid hour and a half in an empty house with worship music, your best friend freaking out when she realizes you can indeed text her from Spain, having the Lord speak to you to reaffirm that you are loved and chosen, and even just being able to actively love others without expecting anything or feeling like you need anything in return. Because sometimes it’s satisfying enough just to put yourself out there, letting someone know that you care about them and love them, and realizing in retrospect that’s just a taste of the kind of reckless love that Jesus has for us, the kind of love that compels someone to willingly give up their life in a brutal death because that’s how much they love. Because love does and as one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes goes, because love is vulnerable.
So, yeah, some people might say, look at the times and what this world is coming to, but I say what a time to be alive. This day and age is full of sights to see, moments to seize, people to meet, and opportunities to love. And maybe that sounds a little naive, but I think that sometimes we need to view all the problems in the world as opportunities for us, as the hands and feet of Jesus, to go out there and do something about it.
Because yes, study abroads will end, final projects will creep up, times and circumstances will change, maybe that person won’t love you back, maybe you’re dying of exhaustion today, whatever. At the end of the day, we have a God who tells us that we are wanted, that we are loved, that we are chosen, that we are purchased by His blood, and that He calls us His own.
So, in light of that, I think that for now, I’ll continue to say that it’s good to be alive.
Oh, look, here's that song. You're welcome.