img_0253I set out from Vermont March 15 in car with husband, dog, bikes, and tent with an itinerary taking us to the Gulf of Mexico and back again over four weeks time. Nothing wrong with where I live except for the sporadic nature of spring north of Albany, New York. However, I longed for a change, the kind that needs forcing with warmth and stronger light. For that, heading south was the answer. Within a day’s drive we had a motel room close to the shores of Erie, PA. From the empty lot next door I heard the first of the spring peepers, a sure sign of the turning of the earth.

The trip meant a last scheduled talk with my friend in Kabul for a while. Hard to know when and where I can get online during the hours she is available. Before I left we discussed a radio interview on NPR’s “The Story” March 13th of an orthodox Jewish woman, Chani Ovadva, who described leaving her faith shortly after completing training to teach in a religious school. She’d had to find a different job, of course, and when she was ready to make the break she went from work to her new life in an apartment without telling them. Her decision to choose what life to lead in spite of the cost reminded me of my friend’s decision to leave her family and their country of refuge to return to Afghanistan alone.

How much my friend has changed since leaving home at about that same age. When under a different roof, how much easier it is to question the beliefs and assumptions of our elders. Religious leaders around the globe forbid adult children from leaving their home with anything less than their parents’ blessing knowing how transformative it can be. The experiences of young Afghans outside the strict parameters of how to be a pious Muslim, as interpreted by today’s leaders, will challenge and eventually change their society.

I shiver a bit in the early morning air of March in Pennsylvania. What subtle changes in myself and  huge changes in Afghanistan are coming?