Glycerine Existence

There has been reason for the quietness of my blog as of late.  Of course there is the obvious of a busy season with travel, emerging out of the fog that is little baby, my other little one out of school for the summer, and hosting summer teams.  But I would be amiss if I stopped right there and gave those above reasons as the only excuses for the months of not-writing.  The reality is, I have been writing. I have been journaling.  I have wrote two previous blogs these last two months.  But then I go to post and publish them, and they just are not right.  Because when I write I want the words to sing a song from my soul. I want to capture a snippet of the essence of my musings of life here, to peel back the layers and give you a sneak peak into our real life struggles, joys, and all that fits somewhere in between there.  And there has been joy but also pain, and I want to be able to write from both the pain and the joy, be able to bridge the two congruent juxtapositions, the two dependently dichotomous expressions.

And honestly, sometimes it is hard to write your thoughts, when you are still trying to sort out what those feelings, observations, and emotions truly are.  Well, a few mornings back, as I was sitting on our front porch, having a cherished morning of slow coffee drinking, rocking chair sitting, staring out at my palms and hibiscus peaking over our porch railings, I picked up my pen and journal and started writing. I still felt a mixed jumble of emotions and thoughts.  Coming off of a busy week of hosting a medical brigade, I felt like that morning was the first chance to breath for a second ,while Finn slept and Seth and Gavin just walked out the door to go snorkeling for the day with the short-term team.  So, as I picked up that pen I understood one thing… I needed to do some pulling and fighting for clarity with my weapon of choice, I needed to let the words start flowing, I needed to make sense of it all with wet ink on crisp white lines. 

As I started my jumbled rambling, this is what came to mind:  a bubble.  Not the kind of bubble coming from “ the aim of sterility with the known phrase of ‘bubble –boy’” nor the idea of “living in a bubble.”  Although, sometimes here I wish I had some of the cleanliness and sterility of living in a bubble; and then there are days here that I definitely feel like I am on display as “living in a bubble” or “fishbowl effect.”  But, no, I am not referring to those notions.  This bubble imagery is more in line with thinking about the way a bubble moves; the existence of those delicate yet oddly strong spheres.   Bubbles are these fascinating objects floating along, just out of reach, every once in a while bouncing along for a few minutes, stopping to rest for a brief moment before the next slight wave of wind whisks it upward resuming its slight hovering and upward swaying.

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Our three weeks back in the States this summer was wonderful and difficult, sometimes both were fighting for the same moment. It was painfully brutal at times. Yes, the traveling and logistics with a baby is always hard.  But it wasn’t that.  It was three weeks of reminders, and not always so gentle reminders.  There were the reminders that we were missing out on a lot of life lived with family.  There were reminders that our beloved city of Atlanta was no longer home.  There were reminders that some of the treasured experiences and items, we once enjoyed no longer held their merit.  There were reminders that we had changed.  Four years living in a foreign countries, four years living in the developing world will give you a perspective that is sometimes hard to articulate, a feeling of uncomfortableness State-side. 

Parts of the now foreign experience, which is the United States were quite comical.  The moments of forgetting there are such a things as cross-walk lights telling you when you can walk across a busy intersection in downtown Atlanta, and rather you just weave through traffic to cross the street much to the amusement or astonishment of the motorists, because that is simply what you do back home in Honduras.  Or the funny times that you forget American phrases, or you are telling a story and only the Spanish words comes to mind.  There are the frustrating and overwhelming times of walking into a pharmacy and wanting to run out because you are so exasperated that there is literally an aisle of eye drops and you have no idea which one you are supposed to buy for your baby.  And finding yourself missing the simplicity of Latin pharmacies.  Where you walk into the pharmacy, you talk to the pharmacist behind the counter about what you are looking for, and they bring you four options and you pick the best one.  Then there is the time you walk into the super-market and you don’t realize you are just standing still staring with mouth gaping wide open until your 4 year old says, “Mommy, why are you just standing there with that weird look on your face?” 

Other parts were more a jolting reality that your life is quite different now.  The realizations you have mid-conversation that you would have glossed over, or random comments, you may have laughed about or dismissed before, that now carry weight or a new reality for you.  I began to notice some of these differences, last time we were in Atlanta about a year and half ago.  I was sitting at our good friends' little girl's dance recital, think more hip-hop, jazz style less ballet.  Sitting in that recital was one of the most relaxing and most "at- home-moments" I had State-side since being back, and when I looked around I realized I was by far a minority and behind me I actually heard ongoing conversations in Spanish as well. Being a minority and hearing languages other than English, is comforting rather than different. You realize this with the simple act of going through the McDonald's drive-through and you feel at home because the woman taking your order is Latina and has a familiar accent. 

 

And yet, you are reminded,  and almost immediately, when you step foot back into Honduras that you are neither at home.  You are greeted by the humidity, warm tropical air, and smoky smell;  you breathe it in and it smells like home now.  Then you step into the resident line at immigration, the Honduran man behind you immediately starts to tell you in broken English that you are in the wrong line; and we politely tell him in Spanish, that: “no, we actually are residents of Honduras.” Or you walk into your favorite cafe and you have this sweet conversation with the waitress, who knows you and your little kids by now, but than you realize the minute you stepped foot into the restaurant everyone else had stopped talking and is turning and staring at you. You are foreigners in a familiar land wherever your feet stand.  So you feel like you are floating in this perpetual bubble that you can push, you can manipulate, you can stretch but can never truly break through, can never truly escape.  You are floating right above two lands.  Never fully planted in one soil nor the other.  Having brief repriefs of resting down and touching down before the next gust carries you along, and there you find yourself suspended once again, floating above and always near but always slightly out of reach.  You are living in the sometimes constrictive, sometimes beautiful, sometimes suffocating, sometimes liberating and yet restrictive glycerine existence of floating slightly out of reach.  Yearning at times to just break through with a foot and dig your toes deep into the soil below, to feel firmly planted and established in one land or the other. And yet bubbles don’t allow for such reality.  Sometimes it is beautiful to view the world through the glycerine rainbow lens in front of you, dancing with all different colors refracting shimmers of light dancing against different shapes making an almost magical looking world.  Other times you yearn to break the bubble and to view the world a little clearer and a little simpler, a little less in the gray,  a little less hazy and complicated, just a smudge clearer; where there is constant and stability .  Where red is red, a square is a square, and the ground is firm and known beneath you, rather than ever shifting. 

Alas, and yet aren’t we all called to not live too comfortable, to not feel too at home here in this world?    Roots can be good, but can also be quite restricting.  To dig our roots in gently, where we can be nourished but not damaged when the soil begins to shift.  Isn't that the ideal?  So sometimes always living on the fringe, always a little on the fray from both cultures gives you a unique perspective.  Because bird’s eye views at times are quite helpful, are quite unique, and even quite exhilarating.  So, while the floating and shifting can be lonely, it is also beautiful.  And in the beauty of loneliness comes forth solitude. Solitude is not loneliness,  And solitude is needed at times to better live in community, to better love and serve others.  And I leave you with words from one of my favorite authors of all times, Henri Nouwen; as he so elegantly encapsulates all this pushing and pulling, all the striving, reaching, and stretching.

This difficult road is the road to conversion from loneliness to solitude. Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into fruitful solitude...The movement from loneliness to solitude, however is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.
— Henri Nouwen