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SEARCHING AND FINDING             Abby Danielle Burlbaugh
   I am a reader, and readers are dreamers and searchers. All readers, like me, know in their hearts that there must be a handsome prince, a dashing rogue, a rugged mountain man to sweep me off my feet and bear me to a land bursting with myth and legend and beautiful scenery. And in that land I would uncover mysteries and secrets, things so simple and pure they can only be found in nature. I would breathe in the fresh, clean air and drink the sounds of birds and breezes and brooks, the soft sounds. There I would be fulfilled and happy. At peace, at last.
    For me, this dreamland was Ireland. I was ushered to this place through my imagination and by the poetry of William Butler Yeats, especially his description of "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." He painted a picture of peace that he longed for and could only find on that island. He pined after it so, that no matter where he was he would "hear it in the deep heart's core." In my deep heart's core, I felt exactly that longing, that need for more; I was drawn to this place of peace.
    Until recently, I thought that my vision of Ireland must remain simply a vision. But through the kindness of my grandparents, I was able to go. And oh the excitement and joy that was mine! I journeyed there with all my hopes and dreams prepared to be fulfilled. And I saw the castles and the bogs, the mountains, the fairy forts, the flowers and even the Isle of Innisfree. The beauty was indescribable. The hundreds of radiant flowers pleased my eyes. The sweet sounds of the birds and brooks and breezes soothed my ears. The fragrance of the pure air invigorated my nostrils. I could taste the rain and feel the serenity drop onto my skin and cleanse my soul. But the one sense that remained untouched was my heart. I was still searching, and for days I pulled at the land, needing that fulfillment I thought it offered. But I couldn't find it, and still I felt sad and empty.
    One day, I was looking deep into a blossom, at its incredible beauty and worth, and I remembered how that flower first appeared. The source of its life, the source of mine, the very beginning, the light of life was where, and only where, I could find my fulfillment and peace of mind. And then my heart exploded, full of what was there all the time, what I could only find within myself, what so many people need and search for, but don't see because it is so simple and basic. And God is basic. God is the source of all things. God is our roots, and just as a tree looks to its roots for nourishment and a river looks to its source for replenishing waters, we must look to our roots and our source to fill the void in our hearts. God is our only nourishment; all else is transient.
    So now I read, but I search no longer, because all the romance and adventure enticing me into the worlds between the pages is just a faint taste of the adventure of life, of my life. I am excited about each day as it comes; each one can be made to be fulfilling in its own right. And when my days run out, I will have lived just a blink of time and the rest will be eternal joy. And that is what I learned in Ireland.

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(From "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christian Teen Talk")
Reprinted by permission of Abby Danielle Burlbaugh. (c)2002 Abby Danielle Burlbaugh.
(c)2010 Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.