Morning, stairs and sleeveless dresses

1000395_10152988074930004_898015445_nMorning breaks yet again. Mornings are bright and quiet and still. I feel grawgy in the morning. The brightness often collides with my face and instead of joy like a Disney character waking up to the sunshine, I grimace and turn away from it. “Stupid sunshine!” I say aloud, as if the morning were an older sibling awakening me early on a Saturday.

Morning.

The days here often greet me as if I were a child on his birthday or a woman as she prepares for her first date. Anticipation comes with my mornings in Altea.

This morning, to my surprise, I woke up with the sunlight. I half-way greeted the new day as though I were cinderella awakening to a room full of rodents and birds happily preparing my outfit. I was glad to wake up. I had fallen asleep at the second of our two homes here in Altea.  So, I woke up to the sound of the sea and the sweet voices of girls bustling preparing for their days.

I was glad to wake up. I was glad to wake up because I knew I’d get to spend another day living into a new freedom, in a new place, filled with my once unfamiliar, but now familiar home.

Wake up!

Words which once conjured feelings of anxiety, now greet me with anticipation.

Freedom is a new rhythm for me and with it come feelings of discomfort. I feel as though I’ve moved into a new house and though it’s a beautiful house, it is new.  Much like the big reveal on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, when the big bus pulls away and a whole new world is revealed, I look at my self, my understanding of self, my beliefs and ideas of identity with awe. And, at the very same time, there are also feelings of discomfort. Everything is new. Everything feels as if it could break or be taken. Everything feels like a dream. Everything feels like an invitation to trust that yes, this is from God and yes, this is good. Freedom is a new house. Freedom is my new house.

On this morning I knew freedom deep within me. I walked in it. It steadied me. It held my head high. It propelled me forward.

I walked the hundreds of stairs to my house, still wearing my yellow dress from the night before. The steps came easily to me. I walked tall. I walked free. I once again felt like a character on a movie set, as my dress flowed and my newly purchased basket purse accented my outfit with perfect Spanish style. I once wore freedom as an accessory, I now find myself living as though freedom were my backbone.  It causes me to stand tall. To dance. To laugh loudly. To wear shirts with no sleeves. To greet strangers in a language I barely know. To eat new foods. To try a new language. To jump into new without fear.

This is not the case every day. Some days the newness of my freedom overwhelms me and I want to run back to the old. I want to put on that old t-shirt, only to realize I’d thrown it away the week before. But, the old no longer feels permissible or completely desirable. New is not always comfortable.

Altea, a small Spanish town, resting on the shores of the Mediterranean, has been the land on which my new home has been revealed.  It’s been the place where I’ve been invited and challenged to live in this new way. It’s been filled to this point with joy and invitations to deeply trust in the one who gave me my new home. The one who has given me my freedom.

The sun invites me every morning to live in the new and today…. I chose to walk in it.

In Ruins: old and new

309203_2176535584743_1131563830_nIt’s almost 3:00pm here in Altea. It is hot. It is quiet. It tastes of rest.

I love the siesta hours. They are like a deep breath in the middle of the day.

As I type I feel a gentle breeze ease its way through the doors to my terrace. I hear the sounds of Claire, a beautiful young woman from Biola, playing the guitar downstairs. Brianna, just made her way upstairs to pick up her journal and her bible. The bells of the Old Church just rang out and I turn my eyes from the computer screen to the doors opening to the terrace. I see the white of buildings and the deep blue of the water. Even from this distance I can feel the calm of the sea and her waves, constant in motion as though she were rocking the shore to sleep. There is ease here. There is peace. There is good.

I feel the good deep within my heart. I feel peace ease its way through the walls of my heart and I breathe it in.

The past two days have been filled with rich depth of experience and conversation.

This morning Ariana told the story of El Diseno, the home and art gallery she and her family purchased on faith in 2005. As Ariana and her family moved to Spain they were reading the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall. They knew they were sent to rebuild the wall here. To be a part of the restorative process in the lives of many. She had no idea that God had given her a vision that was both literal and metaphorical. She and her family purchased El Diseno through a series of miracles. The home is a tower of three rooms, one built on top of the other, much like stacked square legos. And, her home, El Diseno, was built into the old wall of Altea. There are only two segments of the old wall left in this small community and the home which they had purchased, they discovered was actually built into the ruins! They were literally going to be rebuilding the wall, just as God has prompted them. As she talked about her home and the stories of times held within its walls her tone turned to that of one speaking of a great love. She loves her home.

Last year, in June, as Edge Project was underway, Ariana was upstairs in her home when she heard a loud crash that sounded much like an explosion echo through her home. She had no idea what created the loud crash. She made her way down the stairs to discover the ceiling of her precious home had come crashing down. Their home, their love, their miracle was literally falling apart and collapsing. She spoke of this and I could hear her heart ache. The depths of sadness reflect the depth of her love for this three room home in the cross roads of Altea.

The city had built a plaza just above El Diseno and since their building the plaza, water has crept into its walls. Seven years of water rushing directly behind the walls of her home with only sheets of styrofoam to absorb the moisture had taken its toll and was now paying the price. For nearly a year Ariana has sought to resolve the issues of the home, but things do not work here as we are accustomed to in the states. She now has one month for this to be resolved before her case becomes null and void. (If you are the praying kind, please pray for resolution.)

I was struck while she was sharing this story and thought of our collective stories as people. We each carry with us a deep need for restoration. The kind of restoration which occurs from the inside out. We each carry with us a deep need for a true change. This change may come in the form of tearing down the old and building something new in its place. Often, we have to tear down the ruins, to build on a new foundation. This may have to be a part of the story of El Diseno, it has been the truth with me. I know many of us have had a significant breaking or tearing down occur before new can come in its place.

I love this picture Isaiah paints of Jesus.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities

I believe that El Diseno will be fully restored. The promise was actually in the purchase. The promise of it being fully restored is a part of its story. The students and I get the honor of being here in the hours of necessary impossible miracles.  These hours invite us to great faith. These hours invite us to prayer. These hours also invite us to dependence upon our Savior, Provider, Sustainer and Hope.

The parallel of the restoration needed in El Diseno and the restoration needed within the walls of my heart, our hearts, does not go unnoticed. Nor does it occur without effect. I believe each of us come to a place of ruin in our lives and there is an invitation found in the ruin. The treasure is found in the rubble. The healing is found in the broken.

As I live into the new, I remember the walls of my heart that have been torn down and I find myself actually thankful for the ruin.

Do you know the ache of ruin? Do you allow yourself to enter the ruin or do you scurry trying to create a quick fix to avoid the pain of destruction? My prayer today is that those of you who read this will know the hope and beauty and healing found within the ruin. Do not be afraid! Do not look back! Do not hold onto the old, but let it go; let it fall through your fingers and allow your trust to reach out to the hands of Jesus and hold on to him. May Jesus be your strong hold and as the foundation on which you’ve built your life crumbles, trust that Jesus will build for you a foundation that is strong and secure. Your hope, my hope, is built on nothing less, but Jesus love and righteousness

Please join us in praying for restoration for each of us here in Spain, for those with whom we come in contact and for El Diseno.

Parties and Freedom

1044783_10200841588753834_1389747617_nTo be honest I don’t know what to type today. My thoughts are full and rambly. Maybe, just maybe that is what I’m supposed to write about… my random trail of thoughts?

Yesterday we hosted our first party. I loved watching the students transform as the night went on. We welcomed 10 people into our home. To the students these men and women were strangers who did not speak their language. The discomfort was palpable. As the hours passed on the discomfort turned to ease. The fear of speaking Spanish turned to comfort and risk combined. Friendships were established, future plans were made and people lingered for well past 5 hours. It was incredible in every way.

I love watching the students. I love  listening to them. I love hearing them. It is a pleasure to serve them.

Today we hosted a dinner (which is our lunch) for a local artist, his girlfriend and he also invited another friend to join us. Both artists showed us their work and as they did, we were invited into their stories. It was powerful. The artist who was invited by his friend, I believe, was truly invited by Jesus to join us. His art displayed a deep sadness. This struck the students and their desire for him to know freedom is beautiful to see.

Our conversations about mission and being in people’s lives have been rich and full and already transformational.

 

On to another subject:

My year has been challenging. Quite actually. When I received the invitation to come to Spain, it was almost as if Jesus himself were inviting me. I knew I had to go. I packed my bags and without much knowledge about “the what” to my trip, I knew I was to go. Since coming I’m even more certain that this is a time for me to live into the freedom that has come from my months of darkness. (The darkness actually was a catalyst for freedom, so in many ways I find myself thankful for the season.) The freedom I felt as I got on the plane was almost as though I stepped into the passage: The old has gone and the new has come.

Living into new is not all that easy. My life was filled with patterns, coping mechanisms and ways of living that kept me from truth, learning and freedom. I now find myself unwilling to participate in those habits and am unwilling to step back into the old. It is truly gone. But …. new has come. This passage for me almost always was this happy, chipper almost euphoric idea. NEW! New has come.

And at the same time… New has come. New. Not old. Not familiar. Not comfortable. But NEW!

I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve experienced anything new, at first it’s always been challenging. A new home. A new job. A new city. A new haircut. A new pair of glasses. A new language Everything… everything new must be worn in and lived into. But, at first the new is difficult, uncomfortable, challenging and seemingly impossible, all held in the hands of peace, good and freedom. I’ve known this reality here. For not only am I in a new location physically, I’m also in a new location spiritually and emotionally. The old has gone and with it, went my habits, control tactics and coping mechanisms. Therefore, when discomfort, sadness or the unexpected hits I feel completely out of my skin. Yes, I feel freedom, but I also feel discomfort. There have been moments here where I’ve felt an almost instantaneous compulsion to burst into tears. I get caught off guard as I feel a new that I know is good, but the familiar which kept me “safe” for so many years is no longer with me and there is great risk and vulnerability in that.

I feel naked a lot. I feel as though I have been stripped of all the things I’ve used to cover my shame and now I’m standing naked, wondering if it’s okay to be doing such. I feel a deep vulnerability. It is good. It is risky. It is true. God is in it.

With all of this new, I am experiencing good. The good is real and filled with truth. It is beautiful and I’m so thankful to be walking in it. (even though at times it is painful) Freedom is uncomfortable. But I intend, as a friend reminded me today, to do as Marmie said to Jo in Little Women, “Go and embrace your liberty… and see what beautiful things may come of it!” What a great line. What a great invitation! It is an invitation I fully intend to take.

I am living into my liberty and beauty is found here.

 

The students arrive

1011921_10200829627134801_810723006_nMonday came and Xara and I ran around town as we scurried to finish up final details for the students to arrive. Our first stop was the bank. I needed to exchange some money and she had some other business to take care of. I learned how to say, “Puede que Puedo cambiar algo de dinero,” which means, “may I exchange some money please.” It was my turn to go to the teller. I approached with confidence. I said my newly learned phrase and the teller mistook my confidence for fluency and began to talk to me so quickly as though he and I were totally on the same page. To his surprise, I knew nothing! I answered, “si” thinking it was the most logical answer. He then looked at me as if he were waiting for something. I looked back, but this time I was not so confident. My look gave my ignorance away. I then said, “yo entiendo, un poco,” I then summoned Xara to come to my rescue. It was goo thing as I basically had lied to the man when I had answered yes to his question.

The teller, Xara and I laughed and laughed. Soon the other teller joined in as well. I’m fairly certain the bank enjoyed our visit to their fine establishment. They were very somber and a little serious. Xara and I made friends that day. It was good.

We laughed our way through the streets, running into people we knew and taking absurd amounts of time to do the simplest of errands. As we finished our errands I came back to the house and finished up a few things here. I then joined Ariana and Xara for dinner (which is lunch time in the US). As we finished we got a call that the first students had arrived! Xara and I headed off to the bus station. We walked the mile there, then found out that they were at a different stop, so we walked another mile, then we came to find out they had actually stepped off their bus at the wrong town all together. We ended up standing around waiting for a bit. I was so curious to meet them as I’d not met them before. e

Soon enough we saw four Americanos walking towards us and we met up with them and it all changed!

In a good way.

Throughout the day students arrived and joined us. Our group steadily grew, until everyone who was to arrive was here.

That night we sat around a table and exchanged travel stories. We laughed, we listened. I watched as the students began to fade as their travels wearied them. The caretaker in me simply wanted to create refuge for them.

The group of students is varied. They are a huge gift. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know them.

I’ve enjoyed our times talking and listening to them, hearing bits and pieces of their stories and getting a sense for their hearts and relationships with Jesus.

I am thankful to be with students again, even for just a month.

Tuesday came and we toured the town. This was my first time to see the produce market as well as the goods market. We fist perused the famers’ market. The fruit and vegetables were incredibly deep in color and I was so in my element. We simply walked through to see what was there, then we traveled to the other side of town to see the goods market. Running through town is a bit like salmon swimming up stream. We stand out like Dorothy when she first arrives in OZ.

Once we arrived to the second market we were given the option of what to do next. One young woman and I decided to stay at this market and then go back to the farmers’ market following. I bought another dress. (I may just be converting to a new freedom of dress wearing) We then headed back to the farmers’ market and I purchased some lovely fruit and vegetables for the week. It was hard not to want to buy everything.

The food is fresh and good here. Tuesday afternoon I cooked lunch for my house. I roasted butternut squash, sweet potato and cauliflower. Cooked some beans. Cut up some red pepper and also put out some bread and manchengo. (I love manchengo) It was a great feast. I’m eating predominantly vegetarian here and am loving it.

Tuesday afternoon everyone had the option of going out and my house stayed together, laughing, connecting and sharing. (I hear them now as I type. It’s a good good sound.)

We then headed down to Casa Tereza for the evening. We held our orientation and heard more about the students. I am so impressed with them. They inspire me and make me laugh and amaze me with their talent and intellect and honesty. I’m excited to get to know more of their stories as the time goes by.

As I sat listening to Ariana talk about her experience as a missionary for over 30 years and the loneliness of the beginnings I could actually feel the lonely and sadness wash over me. I suddenly was struck by the fact that I am going to be out of my home for 3 months. THREE MONTHS! I thought about what it must be like for those who choose to move their lives to a place where they do not know the language to give of themselves to another people. I wonder how that feels when they realize they can’t just go home when they want. I wondered if the students would feel any of this tension. I think it’s a good place to be.

I’m learning more than I thought. The fact that I am going to be gone for three months actually is a part of the learning. There is joy here. There is hard here. There is sadness. There is good… such profound good.

There is much much more to come.

A birthday party

1aabaa29bb8a1287b3b06ffaf0fad544It was Friday night. We had been in Alicante all day, come home, taken a siesta (for which I’m so thankful!) and now we’re sassying ourselves up for the big party. Ariana and Xara had met Gloria in their first week living in Spain over 10 years ago. She is a bold, vivacious woman. I had only been told stories, but tonight I was going to meet her.

On our way to the party we were to meet another woman, Pillar. We arrived late to meet her and before an introduction could be made, this very well dressed Spanish woman scolded Ariana for being late. Though I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her lips were moving quickly and her fingers were pointing to her watch and her tone held such a pitch it sounded as though she were a chicken about to hatch an egg. She was not happy with our tardiness. We rushed off to a local shop and purchased a gift for Gloria.

(It is the custom in Spain for the birthday girl/boy to throw the party, buy the meal, pay for the drinks and all. Much different than the states where when it’s your birthday you are treated to everything! All day. So it is customary to bring a gift to say I’m glad you were born and I’m grateful for your generosity. There is so much to learn simply from observing and asking questions. I wonder if I miss out on things in the states because I forget to ask questions to understand.)

I followed the three women as they rushed into the store. They held clothes up and discussed their feelings on what was chosen. They discussed size and color. They went back and forth with studious looks as they observed the clothing wanting to choose just the right thing. At one point I felt I was at an art gallery more than a clothing shop as each woman stepped back, put their hand on their chin, squinted and commented on the apparel  before them. It was delightful. Pillar and I had yet to be introduced and just as though she saw me for the first time, she looks over at Ariana and scolds her for not introducing me before. She made sure Ariana knew how rude it was that I’d been here all along and she didn’t yet know my name. I enjoy Pillar and her sass. She reminds me of no one I know and she is full of spice and vivaciousness.

Pillar and I were quickly introduced and I once again used my three year old Spanish. I told her it was nice to meet her and that I understood very little Spanish. She smiled and I smiled and all was good.

We were off! We walked quickly down the paseo, much like women on a mission. We headed directly for our restaurant and barely stopped to say hi to friends we passed along the way.

I must say I was a bit nervous. My brain was already tired from the long day of integration in Alicante and now I was off to another event. The party was full of people and one or two spoke some English, but I was really on my own. This I knew from the get go. We showed up, I kissed each person from the left cheek to the right cheek, as is the custom, I said my greeting and then I stood a bit awkwardly. It was as though I was in the 7th grade and was invited to a party where I knew no one. Everyone around was talking and laughing and carrying on. At one point I almost burst into tears, but instead I took that fiest and turned it into gumption and joined in. I was determined to make a friend, hear a story, get to know someone or at least look like I was. I wanted to communicate gratitude to Gloria for including me and I wanted to communicate that I valued these people and their culture.

I watched for a bit, making a strategy of who I’d talk to and also simply just soaking in the scene. So much was similar to a gathering in the US, but so much was different. There were children at the birthday party. Two of them, a 10 year old and a 3 year old ran around playing, sitting at the bar and talking with others at the restaurant. No one was bothered and the bar tender seemed to like them at his counter. There was a baby in his stroller off in a corner asleep, every once in a while someone would glance in that direction, but for the most part, he seemed to be content, as did his parents. The men stood together. There is power in numbers in this group. And there were only 2 men at the party. The guests were varied. I could tell people loved Gloria. She had friends from Norway, Holland, Portugal, the US and Spain. She had friends who were old and some who were quite young. She was indiscriminate about who was invited to her table as people came from various places and stages in life. I grew fond of Gloria, though we talked little. Her inner kindness was seen as was her loneliness. She loved well and was quite loved.

I watched just a bit more, when I saw a woman free who I knew spoke some English. (In the above picture)

She was from Holland, and was firey and very salty. She had beautiful features, hair white as snow and dressed with color and flare. She stood out from the moment she arrived. Her red lips and blue eyes told a thousand stories before she ever spoke. We talked about the failing economy and how Europeans are fearful that one person will step up in the midst of this crisis as one person did the last time Europe was in financial ruin. That person was Adolf Hitler. There was fear in her. There was resignation in her. There was kindness in her.

After she and I had concurred the world I sat down next to Xara. She and I spoke for a bit when a young boy with a blue shirt, crew cut, olive skin and probably stood just about to my chest came over to me.  He said with bold assurance, “Hello. Nice to meet you!” I complimented him on his English and I asked if he would teach me a few words in Spanish. For the next hour he and I laughed as he was my teacher and I was his student. He taught me the difference between pelo (hair), pedo (to fart), pero (dog) and perro (but). We’d act out or make noises where appropriate. The entire party was observing my lesson and I’m fairly certain they enjoyed every moment. I know that I did.

Pillar grew tired and in an instant she wanted to leave. She grabbed me by the arm and we headed off without Ariana. We got just beyond the restaurant when she yelled to Ariana. I don’t know what it was, but I’m fairly certain it went a little like, “Ariana! Are you coming or not? We will leave you! Stop your dancing and get over here!” I late found out Ariana had been asked to teach the women a certain dance move as she was leaving. This was fun to observe and Pelar yelled and made comments under her breath. I smiled happily as I soaked in all the goodness.

The three of us walked home together laughing and talking. I carried on as though I’d known Pillar for quite some time and as though I knew everything being said. About half way home Pillar told me we would get together on a Saturday in two weeks. I was going to learn Spanish from her. (Yes! One more teacher and Yes! more time with Pillar. She is so curious to me.)

We dropped Pillar off at her home and Ariana talked and laughed our way to Casa Teraza. I went straight to my room and felt complete contentment. It was an exhausting but rich and full and good day. I was so thankful.

It seems I’m constantly invited into situations that remind me to step out, be bold, step in and learn and listen and be comfortable with discomfort. This I know I will take home with me. In this I know I must learn what Jesus has for me. How will I be a better friend? How will I better love those around me? How will I own my own differences and be comfortable being amongst those different from me? I hope I will one day have a birthday party like Gloria’s. One that is filled with difference, generosity, generations and lots of laughter.

Until next time.

Adios.

A trip to Alicante

IMG_6343Today I woke up at a normal hour. I was grateful. It is no fun missing half of my day simply because my body thinks 1pm is 5am. I think, now, my body and my location are in the same time zone.

Ariana and Xana wanted to take me to Alicante to meet a good friend of theirs. She is a young artist name Mariam. Ariana drove and I watched as the road twisted to places I’d only seen under the light of the moon. The dirt is white here. It is dry and hot. There are olive trees, bougainvillea, palm trees and windy fig trees.  The wind blows constantly along the coast line and as we drove, windows down, the wind blew our hair every which direction. We drove past Benidorm, the Manhattan of Europe (It has the tallest hotel in all of Europe and takes much pride in that fact. ). Then we drove past a large bull the size of 4 semi-trucks. He towered alongside the road, I laughed as he was well proportioned and seemed a bit over stated. We then came up over a hill and there rested a city that followed the shoreline and the crests and valleys of the coast.

Alicante is an old city. There is a rather large castle on it’s highest point and a wall that was built to protect it. The wall stretches farther than I could see. I find it so incredible that at some point, someone, well many someones built this huge wall and castle without any transportation. We have become so lazy with our technology.

We picked up Xana in a park filled with towering palm trees and made our way back through the traffic, like scurrying mice. We drove through the main district of Alicante and found parking below where we were to meet Mariam. The parking garage seemed a little more like a disco than a parking garage. Brightly light and overwhelmingly pink walls, with polished floors, shining as though they had just been waxed, met us at each turn. This garage was much cleaner than the streets above.

We found our parking and made our way to meet Mariam. She was a tiny, delightful young woman. She stood against a bus stop awaiting our arrival. Her tiny frame and pixie hair cut seemed to be so comfortable in the midst of the noise of the streets. When Ariana and Xana called out to her, she quickly put her book down and she and Xana ran towards one another as long lost friends often do. The reunion was sweet, we greeted with a kiss and began our walk.

My day of Spanish integration was upon me. We went to a very typical cafe and ordered drinks. We sat right along the streets and I was told, “This is not Altea any longer, hold on to your things.” I moved my wallet closer, but assumed someone would have to be very brazen to come through the maze of tables in which we sat, reach over four people and grab my brightly colored wallet from its resting place.

Ariana, Xana and Mariam chatted away and I listened intently, as though they were speaking in a secret code which I’d be able to decipher if I concentrated hard enough. The funny thing was, I was able to decipher the code! I sat understanding a good deal of their conversation. Which surprised everyone, though I’m sure it surprised me the most.

Mariam and Ariana and I headed out for a walk, while Xana met a friend. We walked around the city, it was full of life. As we made our way down one crowded street, I heard the voice of someone who sounded as though she was an American, sure enough, she was and she needed help finding her way. We were able to help her and then both continued on our travels.

We walked through a part of town that looked much like Disneyland. Lights everywhere, chandeliers up and down the street, lights outlining every building. I am sure it would have been quite the sight at night, but we were told it is not the part of town one wants to be in after dark. Just as those words hit my ears, I looked up and saw a sex shop and nodded with understanding.

IMG_6351Our walk took us to a large basilica, an open square, up and down narrow cobblestone roads and plazas filled with life. People were everywhere. And everywhere, people were enjoying relationship and life together. There is something different about life here. People gather to be, not to do. People gather to linger, not to quickly say hi and move on to the next thing. People gather to listen, laugh and live. In this way I feel as though I fit in. The picture of life painted by these Spaniards is one that I want painted of my life.

We weaved in and out of smaller streets looking for the best local and most typical Spanish restaurant we could find. We ended up in a small bar, where tapas and wine were on the menu. Tapas and wine are on every menu. A very handsome spaniard came to our table and asked what we wanted. I was once again able to order in my three year old spanish and within moments our wine came to the table as did our food. Custom is that you must wait to take the first drink of your drink until all are seated and the host invites us to drink together. We swirled our wine in our glasses, smelled its robust scent and toasted with a “Salud”.

We lingered here for some time, then went on to the next bar. This apparently is very normal in the Spanish culture. Tapas and wine in one place and then more at the next. We only had time for one more stop and chose to do so at a restaurant on an open plaza, with orange umbrellas. It was quaint and quite large compared to the last place we had been. This placed served Spanish cider, which for all purposes is fermented apple cider vinegar. It has a very particular way of being poured out. I don’t know why, but apparently all cider places do it the same.

 

We ate mushrooms in parsley, garlic and olive oil. We ate “jamone” or ham and manchengo. We ate potatoes and garlic aoli. Everything was fresh and perfect. photo copy

I continued to listen and learn. My head was about to burst with the amount of concentration I’d kept, simply trying to keep up with the conversation. But I did it and I’m learning. I’m far far far from reaching my goal of being able to speak the language, but I must give my self some grace as it’s only my third day here.

Every moment seems to hold some sort of history, culture, meaning and purpose. I want to see Jesus in it. I know he is here. I know he is working in me. I just wish I could pry open the process to allow me to see the growth before it happens.

I may be a bit impatient.

Loneliness and traveling

946523_10152941580870004_2120307944_nToday I was alone most of the day. I sat out on the terrace and wrote. I managed to talk with a friend from the states and caught up on some emailing. The overwhelming feeling of the day was not joy or curiosity, but loneliness. The two women here with whom I’ll be co-leading were out all day and I was here, by my self, all day.

The first night was filled with so much adventure and now here I was in this beautiful place, surrounded by so much good and yet all I could feel was that I was alone.

Just about the time tears were coming I received an email from a friend who had traveled much of last year. Her words to me were timely and prophetic. She spoke about being present here in Spain and not to long for things back in the states. I wrote her immediately and told her these words were good for me because I was feeling lonely. She wrote again telling me that lonely is a part of it and to lean into the loneliness and explore what lies there.

So I decided that sitting around the house was not a good way to dive into the loneliness and I put on my walking shoes and walked about 14klm along the sea. The number of cultures that collide in this one tiny town is astounding actually. I heard so many languages. I saw so many varied bathing suits, some I’d like to forget, and watched as old and young played in one space. I’ve rarely experienced such diversity in one place. I had made up my mind to walk until the paseo ended and as I reached the end, was so struck by all who were gathered there.

I made my way home, having leaned into my loneliness and having worked up some endorphins, and felt ready to approach the remainder of my day. It was going to be good.

(I think in our own contexts we know how to avoid feelings we’d rather not experience. I know at times I do. So, just like I want to dive in and experience all that Spain has to offer, I too want to explore all that might be awaiting for me personally in the adventure. Perhaps the loneliness is very good for me? Perhaps the loneliness is my teacher of things I long for and fear? Perhaps I’ll feel lonely a lot? There is a lot of lonely when one is in a country where the language is not understood and where one constantly has to choose to engage from the outside. How do we actually work to include those around us who are different? How do I keep people on the outskirts by my language? These ideas continue to come up and sift through my mind as though they too are my teacher. )

I came home from my long walk on the beach and got ready for an evening out. Ariana had returned from her meetings and we had dinner plans at a pizza place near by. Ariana is gluten free and finding places that serve “sin gluten” can be difficult. She had talked this particular restaurant into making gluten free pizza with flour she provided. This night they were going to try it for the first time and we were going to eat it. Watching Ariana with the Spaniards reminds me of what it must be like to go places with me in the states. Somehow she knows everyone and has no fear when it comes to making friends with the locals. (I still believe that most people want new friends and want to be noticed and are simply a question or two away from becoming such, no matter in what culture one lives.)

I was able to order in Spanish, which made me very happy. Though I’m sure I sounded like a three year old, I was using words and forming thoughts to communicate, albeit broken. I felt quite content with myself as I sat down and exactly what I wanted showed up at the table a few minutes later.

Ariana and I had a lovely conversation as we sat out in the middle of the paseo. (The restaurants along the paseo line the walkway furthest from the shore. Most have seating inside and all have seating outside. Depending on the space and the bike path which runs alongside the restaurants, some have seating up against their shop and others have seating in the middle of the paseo, going in order shop, bike path, seating, walking path, shore line. It’s actually quite lovely.)

When sitting in the middle of the paseo, I feel as though I’m a part of everything up close and personal. I like being in the middle of everything. I like having life happen all around on every side. I can feel lonely in that place. Life everywhere and me simply observing it. But at this particular time, I did not feel lonely as much as I felt an invitation to risk in conversation. Was I going to tell Ariana that I was lonely all day? I had felt foolish for even feeling lonely. It was only my second day, how was loneliness so prevalent?

I decided to risk and share of my day and my fears and my thoughts. It was good for me. I breathed in the air of the sea and breathed out the internal dialogue of my mind.

Traveling is good. It is a lonely good. The lonely is a part of it. The lonely speaks to what is unseen and often ignored in the busy of life. I think I will feel alone often. I think this will be good for me.