la cucaracha

“sometimes the beauty of my people is so thick and intricate. i spend days trying to undo my eyes so i can sleep.” ― Nayyirah Waheed

Month: July, 2013

Waking Up

I opened one eye, to make sure that what I was hearing was not a mob of bats coming in through the open window to eat me… 

It was seven in the morning and a flock of birds were past warming up their vocal chords, they were in full song; but even with the passion and energy the exerted, their turnes were everything but harmonious… The noise was actually so ugly that I really thought they were bats. After about an hour of tossing and turning, I finally gave in to the morning and got up from bed. To my surprise as I placed myself by the window, the birds were actually physically beautiful, and their noise was not an attempt at a song but a chorus of cackles that they shared with each other as they chased each other in the warmth of the rising sun. Their flight was smooth, the movement of their wings almost witty, and even though their color was completely black, they still seemed to bounce sun rays with their mermaid-looking tails into my open palms. 

When God said, “take a vacation” a couple months ago and the plan to backpack Europe dropped into my lap, I had no idea how incredibly difficult that would actually be. Even admitting that makes me feel very selfish. I would say that the most difficult thing God has been trying to teach me is being physically unwound in His palms all the time. To me, that looks like trusting that He is going to provide for me in the material realm. That even if I have to pay 30 euros because my “1” does not actually look like a one on my europass, He is going to provide for me that day. That even if… I have nothing to worry about. To face the pride that likes to surround my heart as a wall of protection each time I feel vulnerable, and ask Jesus to drill through it and knock it down and… cry a lot as the drilling happens… and ask Him to be the seal over my heart. Well, yesterday morning as I was woken up by the hyperactive birds of Florence, God said, “Those birds have absolutely no certainty of survival and yet they are cackling within My Breath. Now, open up My Breath of Life.” I half stumbled, half crawled towards my bible, and basically joined into those birds’ morning worship. Matthew 6:25-27. COME ON. 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds in the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

At this point, both my eyes were wide open; and this bible verse, that had been on repeat when I was very young, that had later died down to a whisper, and eventually just became forgotten storage in the very back of my mind, now hung outside my very window. 

Back in Rome I started doubting my own value, and I think that this verse would definitely not have been the light onto my feet and onto my path that it has become if it had not been for His affirmation of how absolutely precious He finds us to be. Check out Isaiah 49. How He literally hides us in the shadow of His hand, to sharpen us into a polished arrow. How amidst adversity we will still find restoration and victory under His cloud (Is. 49:25,26). And, He writes poetry about each one of us on the palms of His body, His church: Isaiah 60. How infinitely precious, how extravagantly beautiful…

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you…

What a wake-up call!

Amare, Amar, To Love

Adventures never start with a warning sign, with any type of street light indicating a stop, go position; adventures feast upon the spontaneity of brave hearts, of inquisitive minds, of wonderfully restless spirits. 
 
It seems only natural that Molly and I would walk the completely opposite direction from where our BNB actually was… This is a sweet demonstration to why God allows us to veer in the direction we’re so adamant is the correct way, or the place we most desire. But from what I gathered this night, he was everything but an observer. 
 
The night began in a whirlwind of tasteless jokes and punchy parodies, particularly those that revolved around gospel music and Les Mis. Call it an inundation of jetlag, the symptoms of consecutive sleepless nights or the reaction that stems from two chemicals inclined to exhale a gasping breath of complimentary colors when combined, but I, personally, would never choose words as a medium to convey the crazy that is put down when Marianthy and I are together on nights like these. 
 
He was in the patience of the first lady we asked for directions. But He was mostly in the circle of protection around us throughout tonight. He guarded us as we had to traverse dark alleys… And held us tight as He breathed courage in Molly to pray for a beautiful crippled woman, that had been begging for money up and down the street… To the consistent trust families and couples responded with at the Fontana when we offered to take their picture (Mostly, Molly started this awesome domino effect throughout the fountain where people offered to help others get their picture taken)…
 
Dinner near the Trevi Fountain and Marianthy’s regrettable selection of tasteless Ruffino that only quenched our senses desire to take a vacation. She had soup with her parmiggiano reggiano cheese, and I had a baked sea bass, a meager and starving excuse of a young fish who swam around in the tangy vinegar in which I drenched in more than in the sea. We paid for the bread. Three euros that saw the sweaty palms of a restaurant owner or waiter who actually deserved it. 
 
That was a terrible bottle of wine at dinner. But it became a vessel for the realization of the columns of trust that God has built as cornerstones to our friendship. So we broke bread. And we drank terrible wine. And we shared our hearts. With jokes ringing out of our mouths, and hearts emitting a raw vulnerability and warmth, we strolled to our gelato shop for a second round. We settled down on the steps of an apartment complex, got scared off by the opening of the door by exiting owners, cozied up on another pair of steps, and just as we were finishing up our last licks, I felt an approaching presence. Thick, and the corners of my eyes saw a shadow approaching. As I turn, a man attempts to jump at us but before he can even come close enough for me to smell him, he completely bounces off. At this point, though, Molly and I have our arms linked together and we are attached to the hip, we stroll over to the steps by the Fontana, where her Life-led, Life- centered life was affirmed. I mean come on, demonic presences don’t bounce off death. Or fear. They bounce off Life, Love…
 
… Did I mention that this transpired after a second gelato…? It did and the gelato server at the gelato bar was a butt hole when he pointed out that I was pursuing a second round… [Anyways, afterwards] I gave money to a young woman supporting her dysfunctional legs on a skateboard. Just when I was about to chalk the magnetism up to my hindered mind, Marianthy planted a prematurely sprouted seed in my heart with flowers that called me to pray for the woman. I prayed for her.
 
And the adventure concluded– no, began, when we went the completely opposite direction from where our BNB was, and once we had walked a million blocks, I finally asked an impatiently beautiful woman where the stazione Termini was. She gave us rushed directions and went on her way. These directions could not have been more perfect, because they derailed us from the path we were so convinced was the correct one, and led us to bump into two young ladies…. “La stazione Termini– dove sta?” I asked, attempting to hide the fact I actually had no flipping idea where I was. And before I could even catch my breath, they asked me if I spoke Spanish. Divine appointment they call it. Just the other day I had asked God for the opportunity to speak Spanish this month. Not only did I get to partake in an awesome 40 minute conversation in Spanish, all four of us trooped through the dark alleys…. All the way to Termini station and our BNB… Did I mention they were from Mexico?
 
Two incredible Mexican girls, getting lost, finding our way in the light of their hospitality and openness, warnings of prostitutes, a hostile sneer and animalistic noises in response to a cat call (the three Mexicans told Molly not to do that again), and a sincere desire to speak Spanish. Our night. My first verb conjugation in Spanish: 
 
Amar. 
 
Thank you, Jesus. Amen. 

In the beginning…

Unfurling, unwinding, detoxing, but mostly, beginning. 
 
After months and months of just falling: falling on the ground, falling into God’s arms, falling completely in love with Him… Finding such a sweetness, such a warmth, such a home in the unfailing love of Jesus within my consistently failing heart. Now, in transition, I see His hands begin to mold my own heart into a home. A place to recover the memories of love from my past, to rekindle broken relationships, extend and learn to receive hospitality of others, and in surrender, continue to be healed of the way I see His temple: His body. 
 
I wish there was an adjective worthy enough to describe the power, the beauty, the way my knees buckled when He gifted me a gelatto with three giant scoops on a cone and all I could do was cry as I finished the whole thing. Cry in joy in the unspeakable blessing of being able to stand in another part of His creation, to be able to digest, to taste….. To enjoy. 
 
I struggled with guilt. Because this trip seemed like one giant splurge that I couldn’t afford, even though He called and affirmed it for months and months. Even after He provided for it all financially. But today, the way I had to turn a page after the first sentence to Romans 8, made today feel like a sweet turn of a page. The wind that circled only where we were standing, the rain that only trickled where we walked… I think this is the beginning of walking alive. And enjoying it.