I can imagine what it feels like to time travel. The last few days feel a bit surreal in the miles traveled in a short span of time. Friday night we arrived back in Wheaton around 11:00 PM, warmly greeted by my daughter, Janeen, son, Phil, and his girlfriend, Emma. It felt great to be back and to be together. We were home for Janeen’s graduation from Wheaton College, and Rod was looking forward to being a parent of a grad and not a Wheaton professor. We attended a brunch on Saturday morning with the sociology department and had a chance to hear the affirmations of Janeen’s professors regarding her hard work and heart of compassion. Sunday was a great time of celebration for the milestone that has occurred in Janeen’s life. We reminisced about the first day we dropped her off at Bethel University for her freshman year, the year off to work in Chicago at the Empowerment Center, another round of college visits, and finally, letting go of the resistance toward going to college in her home town. And now, finished. She already finished reading a book just for fun!
And here we are, back in Costa Rica. We left the house Wednesday morning at 3:00 AM. We were back in our apartment mid day, walked to the grocery store, did some cooking and took Janeen to the Mirador restaurant at the top of the mountain to see the lights of the San Jose valley. It hardly felt like we had been in Wheaton that morning. I feel the calmness in the familiar place that I have called home for 4 months. I notice that because I didn’t feel much calm on the return to Wheaton, other than the joy of seeing my children. A month ago I wondered if I would want to get back on a plane and leave after being home. And now, I feel gratitude that I was able to come back to Costa Rica. My tendency is to make judgments on my experiences. I have my shoulds and expectations. But today, as I journaled the experience of my return to Wheaton, I release the judgments so that I can listen to what it says to me.
I could not help but notice my need for order. Not that the house was a mess. On the contrary. Janeen had even mowed the lawn! The living room was vacuumed, I had sheets on the bed, and dishes were all put away. It was great to come home to that wonderful surprise. It wasn’t until Saturday when I went to find clothes that I had packed away, having emptied our room and Phil’s room in order to rent them out to 2 of Janeen’s college friends, that feelings of disorder set in. Upon their arrival, our boxes were piled into our one storage closet to make room for Emma and Morgan’s things in the basement. So, obviously things were not where I had left them, and required lots of sorting and moving of stuff. Their kitchenware replaced some of mine. Pots were in a different order. It didn’t feel like my home, and Janeen was watching her college house return to the Scott house. Transition.
I found 2 unpaid bills in the stack of accumulated mail. Another bill that was being disputed since February via e-mail needed to be taken care of. Order began to feel like compulsion, a need to take care of as much as possible to get things back to the way it was before, to make right what was left undone. I noticed the stress in my body, and the lack of joy and laughter. As I sat with my reflections this morning I learned several things. Bringing order to disarray is a gift, a reflection of the nature of God. Yet, as everything, gifts can easily become compulsions that rob of joy. The gift became a need that took over. The same God that brought order out of chaos walked among the messiness and brokenness of life. It wasn’t about making all things perfect as a means of happiness. When my need to return to order became what I needed to feel calm and settled, I lost joy. And that is the place that I heard an invitation today. Learn to take that unsettled stressful emotion and bring it into the Presence that is peace. I am not the source of my own peace. I also didn’t have much compassion for myself in my stress filled state. Instead, I felt despair, that maybe nothing in me had changed at all in these last 4 months. Yes, it is a slippery slope in the world created in my mind!!
I notice the self talk, the beliefs that cause me to feel stuck and the responses toward myself and my emotions. Today they became windows to truth. I often create a world in my mind that isn’t the real world, with messes, and limitations. I create an image of myself, that to be strong means never letting things get to me, so when I feel overwhelmed I feel disappointed in myself. The invitation today is to stop trying to be God. Let my responses be what they are, and see them as opportunities to find grace and compassion. Be willing to be human, with all the emotions that come, and when the joy of life disappears, look for the window that points to the Source of Life beyond myself, that dwells within me. That is the source of peace, compassion and acceptance.
I notice the joy I feel being back in Costa Rica. Yet there were plenty of times that it was difficult being away from home, from family and friends. Maybe it is the joy from getting a taste of re-entry, without needing to fully re-enter. And it was filled with lessons. My take away today was, do not set myself up to do it perfectly stress free the next time! Expect some stresses, some adjustments. Look for the windows that let in love and compassion. Be human. And know that transformation has occurred because life is not stagnant.
On May 18, I will re-enter again.