Stepping into relationship, the sea and reserve

Spring came to Altea with temperatures nearing 70 degrees. The warmth blanketed the village and like ants moving towards a picnic, people streamed outside. Children were playing among the rocks which outline the sea, couples were holding hands and laughing as carefree vacationers do, the bikers, runners and aerobic walkers were out in force and the sea was clear. I could see the rocks through the water, they looked as if they were sleeping on the bottom of the sea. The warmth was a very welcome companion as it also warmed my home and I felt the heat of the sun rather than the cold of the rocks which embed themselves into the side of the old wall in to which my home is built. (The wall was built in the 1400s, so this wall is older than the county which I call home.)

A friend and I were out to coffee. We sat in the sun, along the sea, drinking our cafe con leches and felt the heat of the sun upon our faces. She stepped inside the shop for a moment and I was left with her baby. She and I were playing a game of turn your head to the right and smile (repeat) when a couple strolled by and said hello. They had an accent that was familiar. I spoke up, maybe our mutual accents would strike up a conversation. And they did. I asked where they were from, Colorado they said. I was filled with delight, “Me too!!!”  Two hours later they got up from our table and we had plans to meet up later in the week.

After coffee we headed home, made dinner and cozied in for the night. We sat down to dinner only to hear a knock on the door. I ran the three flights of stairs down, (Once again there was no running at all. It’s a bit more like a set up jumps… perhaps a hop? I hopped down the stairs. When each stair is equivalent to a regulation stair and a half and the turns are so tight that you have to be careful where you step, as there may or may not be stair present, and the stairs are tile and you are wearing socks, there is absolutely no truth to word picture of running down the stairs. But I thought running down the stairs was the intension of my speed and fit better in the sentence. Now, my caveat is as long as the paragraph in which its written… I digress… So I carefully hopped down the stairs) and opened the door, there stood Lucas and a college friend. Lucas was a student who joined me in Altea in 2015 as a team member for the trip I led here. I found out a week ago that he was coming to Altea, but did not know he would be coming by this particular night. I invited them up and we drank a glass of wine and talked about the roads that brought us to Altea.

Something in me felt so alive. I had had encounters with strangers who became friends and then drop by guests! I was able to help connect people and also offer hospitality. Part of me perked up like a runner who hasn’t been running for some time and feels the rush of the wind as they pick their legs up and sprint down the street for the first time. It also felt like I should have roadside sign that reads, “proceed with caution!” This love for people is what can quickly sweep over me, like a tidal wave and take me out. I can tend to override my soul for the person in front of me. Maybe I am getting a little practice before I come home?

The friend with whom I was having dinner commented on her love for my life and how easily people feel disarmed around me. She is in the throws of motherhood with three children and a husband and all that these things entail and my life seems, and in all practicality is, very different. We were able to celebrate the life of the other and I wondered in my heart how life would be different for me if I had her story. I could feel the conversations of the day and felt a strange sensation, something like a full pot that could not receive one more drop of water before it spilled over. I was at people capacity. I could not feel one more thing, hear one more word or even know the presence of another person for one more moment. This is new. I told my friend that I must head to bed, and soon, tucked under the covers, I fell fast asleep.

Today, the sea is grey. It matches the clouds that have jammed their way into Altea’s sky. They are packed in like teenage girls in the front row of a Justin Bieber concert. They hang low and touch the horizon of the sea causing the two to meld together. The air is cold and misty, much more like a day in London than one on the coast of the Mediterranean. It is a sleepy day. I got up, ate breakfast, took a nap and then settled in at L’interdit to do some writing.

I am wearing a scarf and feel a bit constricted, it is what I felt like last night when my capacity for people had reached its peek.  I am no longer warmed by the sun, but chilled by its absence and feel permission to be still. I wonder to myself if this day is a gift, keeping me slow, revealing to me a pace of life that I can keep and be at pace with the tempo of my soul. I welcome the chill, the grey and the sleepy-slow morning that somehow turned into afternoon in the flash of a moment. I welcome the solitary table and the thought that later this evening I will be hosting dinner for 6 at my favorite restaurant, quite possibly in the world.

Reserve is important. It is something that exists for emergency use only, yet reserve is not something I have kept. I want to use every last drop of life, energy, and emotion every day. Today, feels like a reserve building kind of day and instead of making plans to fill my day, I trust that these moments of quiet and rest are building into the reserve tank of my soul and knowing that they will be needed at some point down the road, but not today.

I find myself praying: Jesus thank you for your good. Thank you for the things I am learning. The people that I am meeting. The way you showed us to live. The order that you gave us to live in. The beauty of your creation and the grace you fill me with. I am so thankful for the care with which you are handling me and I trust you with every result. My soul is yours… My heart is yours… My life is yours… every single part, may you and I be like the sea on this grey day, meeting and melding together where those around can not distinguish the difference. Amen


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