Exactly one month ago I was spending a week with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in Antigua, Guatemala. We spent the time working with Common Hope (LOVE this organization!!!) and also spent the week all up in each others’ business. Because, when you are bunking with, eating with, and living with a dozen other people in everything you do all day long, you just can’t help but hit a new level of relationship with them. And what I saw in these beautiful faces of my friends was such an extraordinary outpouring of love. For each other, for me, and for people they had never met. And on this trip to Guatemala, I not only fell in love with a country that is a five hour plane ride away. I also felt closer to heaven than I have in a long, long, LONG time. It’s like the moment we stepped off the plane, we were all in a simpler time, a time when the things that mattered were TRULY the things that mattered. Love. Friendship. Food on the table. A roof over your head. And the things that sometimes feel like they matter here in my suburb – the things like outfits, pinterest, the cars we drive, the brand of coffee we drink… Well, it turns out, they faded away from my heart pretty quickly in this beautiful, broken place called Guatemala. Spending a week in this place broke my heart in ways I had no idea I could still, at 35 years old, be broken. Sometimes in my ignorance I begin to think that I understand that the world has lovely moments and horrific moments, and… Well, it all just keeps on ticking. But standing on cobble stone roads, surrounded by children playing, moms making their daily tortillas, dogs huddled up in corners trying to save what little energy they have for the moment that they need to go find another meal… It all felt so raw. I remember feeling confused as I sat down on about day 3 of the trip. How, oh my Lord Jesus, HOW do I make this all fit together in my life? Where do I put the pieces of this puzzle that hurt so much? What about the beautiful pieces back home in Western Springs? The pieces that are my precious children, my rock-solid husband, my family with undying love for each other? And now these new pieces – these families that I love that are living day to day in a place where there are NO guarantees? A lost job, a life threatening injury, a volcano eruption… Where would that leave them? I have no doubt that, if for some reason, Brian’s job disappeared before our eyes and the house was taken from under our feet and we were left with nothing, we would have OPTIONS, people. We would crash 201 BIG TIME. (Mom, Dad? You sweating yet?) 🙂 And if something happened to THEM, we would figure something ELSE out. I just know that in this lovely land of plenty, the fear of losing it ALL is pretty much nonexistent to me. We will 99.99% most likely be just fine forever here. If we couldn’t make ends meet and I confided in a few of my dearest friends, I KNOW they would have meals on our table every night for months. And we could scramble to make sure our kids had clothes, and somehow, it would all work out. Because for whatever reason, here in Western Springs, it absolutely almost always DOES work out. But this new place… Guatemala… Seeing the things I saw there – the love and beauty, mixed DEEPLY with the needs and pain… How does this all FIT? I like easy, and I REALLY like safe. But Guatemala was none of those to me. It was hard – crying my eyes out hard. Uncontrollable sobs that eventually left me drifting into the deepest of sleeps. And safe? Ha! Brian and I could only agree, once I was home, that it was better that we had NOT read the US Safety Precautions for anyone traveling to Guatemala as a tourist. Ignorance was bliss, I can guarantee you that. But now I’m home. And it still doesn’t all fit. Frustrating. I like it to fit. There’s a fantastic puzzle set up on the dining room table right now, and last night I stayed up long into the night until I couldn’t see straight to work through the pieces. 3 a.m. and I was still going strong. Just a few. more. pieces…
And in the midst of all the emotions from my trip, a lovely new friend shared a poem. I can’t imagine that she knew she would be speaking right to my heart as she shared this, but I’m telling you, this poem sits with my soul perfectly… I love it, but I can’t explain it… It just speaks to me.
Love Does That
All day long a little burro labors,
Sometimes with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
About things that bother only burros.
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting than physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes to her stable and brings
A pear, but more than that,
He looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
And for a few seconds the burro is free and even seems to laugh,
Because love does that.