Sunday, November 9, 2008

Life by the Drop

At what point in my life did I switch from being the one who sought my thrills in adventure to the one who sought my thrills in the stillness? This isn’t to say that I don’t want to be involved in amazing adventures, doing amazing exciting things; because I do, but these are not the things that I actively seek to fulfill my heart.

So what do I seek? At this moment I’m sitting looking out at the atlantic ocean, a gorgeous breeze cooling my oh so foolishly sunburned legs and listening to my friends talk about how they are so energized by building their network marketing business. We have just spent the last week volunteering in the slums of rio, connecting, working with people who live in the hardest and most desperate of conditions. One evening we sat talking with a group of young men, they have lived the hardest of lives, their career paths are a choice between drug dealer or dirty cop—they have never even known the concept of choosing to do something one loves—perhaps they don’t even have the smallest idea of what they love, their biggest dreams are somehow focused around sleeping a full night in their own bed, with no bedbugs eating away at their skins, while the sound of gunfire outside the thin walls serenade them into a false sense of security for the moment .

By a sort of blessed grace, this group has been swept out of the favela. Living together in a home outside the slum sponsored by the nonprofit we were volunteering for. One of them, Sidney, spoke of his emotional breaking point a few months ago. One night, laying in his cramped and dirty bed, he suddenly felt that if he didn’t find a way to leave the favela immediately he would die—selling drugs, living in the terrible hand-to-mouth existence dangerous drug culture—it was the beginning of the end for him, either the actual end of his physical life—he could actually feel that he would end up dead soon, or that he must end his way of being, the only life he had ever known. He began praying to his god that very night, “please find a way to take me out of this”.

My heart just absolutely jumped out across that room, encircled his beautiful smiling spirit with my own. I felt tears of joy welling up in my eyes as I was overcome with gratitude that he had found a way out of the only life he had ever known, into this new and shining opportunity for a new way. We talked for just a few moments after the group broke up, and with a translator he told me that he was overcome with a feeling of “saudade” for me --if my translation is correct—a feeling of longing and missing for me in his heart. Tears sprang into my eyes as we shared a brief moment knowing that we cared so deeply for someone in the world that we didn’t know at all, but knew entirely at the same time. In my world, I feel hardly old enough to be out of my own childhood, and in his world I am old enough to be the mother that loves him fiercely with all her heart.

These are the moments I seek. They appear in the oddest of ways. Of course this was a huge and obvious one, but they all come wrapped in different packages and I feel so blessed to get still enough to notice them when they appear. The past year for me has been full of very big moments, lots of traveling and larger than life ways of being in the world. And through so much of it I am learning how the exact opposite is the moments in which I find my soul… lying under a cedar tree on a moonless night, quietly hearing more than seeing the family of deer steal by on their way to slumber; listening to the visions in my mind long enough to see the story that unfolds and sharing it outloud; stepping into a kitchen full of the smells of love being simmered on the stove and spread out as a feast before the family…

So is the adventure the trade-off? It’s not that I am called to abandon the glorious pursuit; it’s just that somehow the inner adventure of the soul now is a stronger and more glorious call. For this I have felt my own “saudade” so many times—and now joyously breathe in the blessed moments of soul adventures as they fill my moments and my soul.

Now playing: Stevie Ray Vaughn - Life By The Drop
via FoxyTunes


  1. k miss world traveler . . . how do you do it? i want to know the secret behind it all . . . being able to take the time to travel and volunteer! sounds so good!

    loved this post. it's amazing what we take for granted . . . thank you for sharing

  2. Maybe it is partly age...I feel the same...that I'm more content to stay home than seek out activities that I used to "need". Sounds like you had a great experience. Did I tell you that when Allen and I lived in Philly, our branch was in the slums and we were nearly the only whites? I was in YW and I wanted to bring a couple of them home with me! It is cool to see the ones who are making it in the world!