Thursday, June 6, 2013

Life and Love

     I have been back here in the United States for almost 6 months now. This time has been filled with a wide range of emotional ups and downs - excitement at reunions with loved ones, sadness in missing Nicaraguan friends, coworkers, students, and community mates, anger and confusion about overabundance and discerning where I belong. I recall a difficult conversation I had with my parents about a month after I got home in which I yelled that I don't like that I live in a place that has carpet and that it frustrates me that the majority of the food I eat comes all packaged up and that I have to drive everywhere. I was so upset that I wasn't able to continue to live the simple lifestyle that I had loved in Nicaragua. Yet, I am blessed with a family that is patient with me and my outbursts and critiques of our culture and has supported me through it all. I am blessed to have a warm home and food everyday. I am blessed to have a job, even if it might not be my dream job. I am blessed to be able to speak Spanish each week with the adults in my English as a second language (ESL) classes, which has been a very enriching and rejuvenating space for me.

     A couple months ago, someone asked me if I was adjusted yet, and the question stumped me because I didn't quite know how to answer. There are so many times that I still find myself thinking in Spanish and not a day goes by that I don't think of my time in Nicaragua. Yet, I am quite enjoying eating cheese and going to the library and playing games with my family and calling friends to catch up. Honestly, I think it will be a continual process of reflecting on all that I lived and learned in Nicaragua and trying to integrate some of those aspects into my daily life here. 

     Journaling has always been a good way for me to reflect and center myself and I have been thinking a lot about brokenness, love and community. I am not sure I can adequately express how challenging it was to leave behind so many people I love in Nicaragua. Returning home, thus, I went through the process of grieving. Along with the people, I missed the lifestyle I had grown to love - being outside all the time, living in an intentional community, walking to the market to buy fresh produce, riding the bus, freedom from the distraction of TV and internet in the house, speaking Spanish, embracing hospitality and searching for a way to reciprocate it. As I would sit and feel sad for myself, I began to think about the people I know here and what each one of us is confronted with: poverty, the comfort and loneliness of wealth and material goods, individualism, the struggle to learn English for adults in the ESL classes, pressure of school, broken relationships, a miscarriage, working so hard at therapy everyday, trying to communicate ourselves to others, searching for love and acceptance. We are all broken in some way. Children, people with special needs, the elderly, babies, and everyone in between - we are all searching for love, a love that fills us and strengthens us, that comforts and consoles us, that gives us hope, that makes us whole again.

     Love is expressed in so many little ways, yet its profoundness overwhelms me at times. This past weekend my cousin got married and the love she and her husband have for each other felt almost tangible - between the words they spoke to each other and the smiles that never left their faces, it just seems so right that they are together. I am so happy for them and feel blessed to have been a witness at the beautiful ceremony. I can think of many other examples of these overwhelming expressions of love but I believe love can also be found in the simplest gestures such as a good conversation, a phone call for a birthday,  a hug, words of affirmation.

     As human beings, there is something so innate in us that longs to make a connection with another, to share love, not only in a romantic sense but with friends, coworkers, students, community mates, family members. We are ultimately all a part of a human community and thus we must rely on one another both in our moments of brokenness and in our times of celebration. As one who thrives from relationships, I have slowly been discovering how important it is for me to meet people where they are and that's not always easy. I have found it really hard to relate to some people, especially after returning from such a profound experience in Nicaragua. However, I am continually challenged to accompany those I come in contact with on a daily basis even if what they are  going through seems so far removed from the struggles of my friends in Nicaragua. It still matters; they still matter. Sharing myself with others and creating the space for them to share themselves as well is what life is all about, in my opinion. For through relationships, we can create communities that honor human dignity and promote social justice. (I can dream can't I?)

One Sky
For every difference that makes us unique, we have a common bond that connects us. We each share the need for home and community, for love and respect. Together we are one family, living under one sky.
-Native American poem

May we step out of individualistic tendencies and humbly turn to those around us for support and rejoicing.

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