We had a couple of unbearably hot days last week, and it made me think of Rio. The heat in the favela is oppressive. Perhaps matching the poverty of the people.
I recently ran across a few reflections I had written in Brasil. I got caught up in reading my musings from the slums...
I am in the last month of my journey in Rio. Which is ridiculously hard to believe. Our days seem to be getting fuller, longer, and hotter. Several weeks ago we hiked to Cristo Redentor, the very famous Christ statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. The hike up to the Christ is ridiculously grueling, probably the most difficult hike I´ve ever done, which seemed fitting. It seemed right, that there would be this arduous journey up to the statue, symbolic perhaps of our own journey. After much time and much sweating, we made it to the top and I at long last saw the Christ, arms outstretched to this beloved city plagued with poverty, violence, and oppression. Like many things in life, the statue seemed so much smaller in person, but perhaps this is another example of how the journey is so much more than a means to an end. Perhaps the journey is the thing afterall.
I am learning what it is to live with simplicity and compassion and grace. I am learning to live flexibly, moving with the Spirit. I am learning the life of a pilgrim, a long-time traveller. I am learning what it is to wait patiently, about "the wonder of waiting, the tingle of anticipation and the deepening of longing, the hope of imagining the improbable." I am learning what the difference is between doing and being and that being is so much better. I am learning that "the One who calls you is faithful."
I had forgotten. I'd forgotten so much of what I learned about the journey, about the power of presence, about living simply. I think I've been so caught up in all of my doing that I have missed out on the being that is so central to a life of grace. And if the One who calls you is faithful, than why do I spend so much of my days in doubt?
I've been thinking a lot about joy and wholeness. About what it is to live a life of worth. Not worth in the sense of merit or excellence but worth: Am I living a life worthy of the grace that's been given me? Do I find value in the everyday? Am I seeking to live with purpose and awe?
I'm wondering what kind of story my life is telling.
Someone asked me the other day where I see myself in five years. I answered honestly: I don't know. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I've never been one for planning far in advance. I envy the clarity and ambition of those who do. And I imagine part of living a great story is knowing the plot, but some of my best paintings and essays are the ones that caught me by surprise. I fear that if I press on with a five year goal, I will miss the being along the way that may just change my course for the better.
"The wonder of waiting, the tingle of anticipation and the deepening of longing, the hope of imagining the improbable."