Guatemala. The map tells me exactly how many miles away it is, but now I know, it’s not that far at all.
Since I’ve been back, several different people have said/written to me a similar sentiment: “I hope you found what you were looking for”, which honestly has made me stop and think. On the one hand, I am humbled and honored to be considered a “seeker”. I think of people like Brennan Manning and Thomas Merton and C. S. Lewis. Of Teresa of Avila and Donald Miller and Philip Yancey. I have trouble putting myself in their company, and am not at all sure that is how the comments were intended. In fact, there is another part of me that is a little defensive and confused. Is that how I appear to others? Lost, searching, anchor-less? Or is it just a case of the usual semantics confusion and misunderstanding of busy-ness and conversations cut short?
If I’m honest, I guess I can see where I might seem a little “crazy” from the outside. After all, I am pretty open about my plans to get out of the army and probably medicine in the fall, as well as the fact that I’m pretty unsure of what I plan to do after that. But the truth is, despite that, I am more peaceful than I have been in a long long time. And although it’s taken me a few days to put coherent words to the multitude of thoughts, sights and experiences of the trip, I am more certain than ever that that peace is the real thing.
From the very beginning I knew this trip wasn’t about anything I was going to do. I found the details sort of working themselves out despite my lack of planning or worry and almost before I even knew it I was stepping off a plane in Guatemala with a group of 20 soon-to-be close friends. The next 4 days were full of plenty of walking, seeing, laughing, praying, doing and loving. I met more selfless, gentle, peaceful people than I could have imagined, and at times the kindness and goodness and patience were almost unbelievable in their pervasiveness. I am sure there will be more to say, but as I have thought back over the time I am struck again and again by the fruit of Him that I saw, experienced, received- for four sweet days when the real world and time as I usually experience it sort of just stood still. So while I wasn’t searching for anything specific, I sure found some amazing gifts:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Love: An intense feeling of deep emotion
Joy: Great pleasure, happiness, delight, gladness
Peace: Quiet and tranquility, calm, stillness
Patience: Capacity to accept or tolerate suffering without getting angry or upset
Kindness: Quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate
Goodness: Generousity, virtuous, excellence of quality
Faithfulness: Loyal, adhering firmly and devotedly
Gentleness: Tenderness, power under control
Self-control: Soundness of mind, moderation, restraint, choosing the important thing over the urgent thing
These amazing pictures were taken by Stephanie May (5,9,10,14), Alene Snodgrass (6,8,13), Katie Axelson (3,11,20) Susan Stillwell (1) and Emily Gallimore (2,4,7.15,19). The others were taken on cell phones 🙂