Finding beautiful things

These last few weeks have been the hardest I’ve experienced for quite some time.  Between my still less than healthy ankle (and the transportation difficulties and limited mobility included therein), several interpersonal conflicts with people in my life, and the stresses of my difficult classes here compounded by efforts to make graduation and post-graduation plans, I can’t help feeling completely out of control.  Some days it nearly feels like I am a bystander to my own life.

My wise friend Elsa has been encouraging me to establish morning and evening routines that are life-giving and empowering, a way to start and end each day in a-dare I say that word-  intentional way.  Doing so has given me a sense of peace and has anchored my time here, rather than just letting the time move as it will.

But this morning, I found myself getting discouraged again.  Reading Nicaragua: Revolution in the Family provoked thoughts of the big picture of peacemaking, and I ended up lying on my bed doing some deep, dark, soul searching.  I found myself listing a lot of ugly, hurtful things that are in my life and in the world, and letting those things swamp me.

To counteract my murking, I spent the next 2 hours focusing on the beauty I have been experiencing, and refusing to let it get overpowered by negativity.

Here are some of the things I came up with.  Sometimes when everything seems dark and dismal, you just have to find or make beauty in unexpected places:

Nature:  The textbooks I’ve been reading this semester are overwhelmingly depressing.  Latin American Literature texts are all about the horrors of colonization, ruthless dictatorships, and sickening racism.  My 20 and 21st Century Foreign Policy class has me reading more about cruel and corrupt dictators, the endless gap between the rich and the poor, and the countless times the U.S. has inexcusably put their nose where it didn’t belong.

So I found another purpose for my textbooks...

Perspective: I love the Nicaraguan people.  The students in my English class at the community center in particular are a major blessing.  They patiently and kindle answer even the silliest of my questions about Nicaraguan culture and the Spanish language.  In return I don’t laugh at them when they pronounce 33 as “turdy tree”, or when “beach” sounds 100% identical to “bitch”.  But in the midst of my mulling over the search for peace in Nicaragua’s bloody and conflict-ridden history, I have come to understand that in order to truly grasp the concepts of international and intercultural peacemaking, this sort of experience I am having now is necessary.  Without the context of my relationships with Nicaraguans, I would never have the perspective that I do of Nicaragua’s political and social turmoil.  Therefore, knowing the people here and having the (sometimes painful) opportunity to see their struggles firsthand allows me to better understand what change needs to take place, and what the nature of the problem truly is.  So this morning I took time to reflect and remind myself that being able to more accurately study, specifically pray for, and more actively advocate for the specific needs of the people here is worth the pain and frustration that comes through realizing the truth, in that the pain of the Nicaraguan people is neither simple or new, and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Body: My ankle has been an unbelievable source of sadness and stress.  I have missed out on many things, and spent far more time at my house than I would have liked because transportation is so much more difficult and expensive for me now.  It’s also hard for me to feel good about myself when the only shoes I can wear are bright blue flip flops and, let’s be honest, ankle braces and crutches aren’t remotely cute.

So, I decided to find a way to look at my ankle with something other than frustration and disdain.

What say you? Too many pictures of my feet? Probably.

Three strong.  That’s a start.

Here’s to a more beautiful mindset, even when beauty includes difficult, frustrating, and complicated.


Good Morning Huge Bug