Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mi Ultimo Dia en Espana

from my journal on 4/12:
"Well, this is it. What have I learned? Mucho. What do I have left to learn? Mucho, mucho mas. Thank You, sweet Jesus."

from Mike Howertons' Miles to Cross:
"I don't know all the answers. I don't. Can one person really know? Can there be certainty despite confusion? But I do know God, and because of HIM:
I say life's for living.
Road's for traveling.
Eye's for wondering.
Soul's for soaring.
Bag's for sleeping.
Heart's for loving.
God, please don't allow me too much success and ease as the devil's advocate. Please don't allow my love of ale and travel disqualify me from a role in Your delight. Do I really have to become a safe, boring Christian in order to love You? Tell me what my heart longs to hear... that following YOU well is the only true adventure left."

"Have I climbed mountains of experience and trekked miles down the twisting road of life, only to return devoid of anything tangible, fulfilling? Am I returning to the States with mementos of truth notched in my belt?
What do I know?
I know that it is more important to focus on the journey than the destination. Each mile has a wealth of beauty, and new unexplored groves of trees, and unnoticed shades of green, rocks, hills, a bend in the road that tickles the belly at high speed. Destinations are secondary. They are important, but not most important. Like goals, they are necessarily discarded once achieved. The destination, then, is temporary, but the journey goes on.
I know the mystics were right... there is a mystery in the mundane. God is in the moment-by-moment. He is vastly nearer than most people think.
I know there is more romance here than I ever thought possible... quite enough to keep the Wordsworths and Poes and Falstaffs and Howertons happy for lifetime upon lifetime.
And I know, like sunshine on the back of your neck in July, love beats down upon this place without ceasing.
The bit you play on this stage is of infinite importance. There is a purpose. I'm not sure I know mine yet. But I'm after it with all I've got."

"...somewhere it hit me- joy. Like a doule-shot of espresso, my heart pounding in my throat, I wanted to run, so I did; I wanted to sing, so I did; I wanted to fly, and maybe I did, but it was because I was thankful, I was so thankful, I AM so thankful. I couldn't stop saying thank You, thank You, thank You, God, thank You for loving this wandering pilgrim and for loving all wandering pilgrims, and experiencing only His love back, more and more, a Divine Yes, Yes, Yes, affirming love, affirming life, affirming myself, Yes, even affirming the journey, because in the final analysis, it all works together for His glory, Yes, and can I live for His glory? Yes, and can I point others toward His glory? Yes. And Yes. And YES.
My heart is bursting, and it's all I can do to keep my feet on the ground. Life.
Is there anything else?"

Thank you, all of you, for making this great adventure possible. It was a time in my life that I will never forget.

Final Days in the Place I Love

from my journal on 4/11:
"Raining again. It was raining when Katie left, and I guess Spain is sad to see me go, too. I'm at La Mallorquina for a final round of cafe con leche, napolitana de chocolate, y bocadillo de jamon y queso. Clint is so right about coffee- it warms the hands, the heart, the soul. I love it, and I can't wait to share some of the Spanish coffee I just bought with him. "

"The band I love so much was on the Metro from Cuzco to Tribunal, pounding out "Tequila" and other upbeat, brassy songs with horns and an upright bass. It made me happy to be alive and difficult to keep my feet still. I gladly gave them some money. They earned it. I also passed the gentle old violinist who sits in Sol. I listened and watched for a moment. He is so peaceful when he plays, and you can see that he loves it, like he is home. The music loves him back, and the notes wrap around him lovingly. They embrace me, too, and I am glad."

"A deep sorrow is threatening to settle into my bones, but joy beats it back. The joy of experience, of adventure and love, of opportunity, of faith and hope for more of the same, is more powerful than any sorrow on earth, and I take shelter in it and smile, because this is my life, and I am blessed by grace and for grace alone.
Joy pervades, and my heart sags with the lovely weight of it. My eyes fill with tears of thanks and I smile, knowing there is much more ahead."

Lessons Learned

Well, it's a bit of an understatement to say that Spain has been the most challenging, exciting, educational experience of my life. I'd like to share with you some of the things I have been enlightened to, in hopes that you will learn something, too. Here is an excerpt from my journal, titled "Things I Have Learned in Spain".

- Fight to always be amazed and never apathetic.
- "No pasa nada." Worrying about something NEVER makes things better, it just wastes time.
- Do not be wasteful (with food, electricity, water, etc.). However, it is perfectly acceptable to have a three hour lunch and then take a nap in the park.
- Be passionate, but quick to both forgive and seek forgiveness.
- Be kind to foreigners and show them extreme grace and understanding.
- Children need discipline.
- I will choose darkness over light, if only because I am lazy. I must be discplined and obedient.
- Always, always, always love. People are hard to love. Love them anyway.
- Fight ethnocentrisity and fight it hard. America is a fantastic country, but there is much, much more to see and experience in the world.
- Be aware of the difference between action out of wounded pride and the true time for assertiveness.
- The experience of missing something or someone points to a worthwhile life and meaningful experience.
- Different is not always better or worse, it's just different.
Don't let people, circumstances, or a bad attitude keep you from having the time of your life.
- Bloom where you're planted. Make the most of the time you've got regardless of your surroundings.
- I believe in God because my soul longs for Him and His deepness, beauty, and truth. My soul knows He is the best way and the best thing and cries out for more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paseo del Prado

I found one of my new favorite places the other day- El Paseo del Prado. It's a long avenue lined with museums, shops, restaurants, and gardens. Perfect for an afternoon stroll to reminisce on a great, great trip.

El Museo del Prado

Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid

from my journal on 4/11:
"I feel as though I am swimming through a sea of tulips, because they are everywhere, in every shade imaginable- lilac, deep ruby red, midnight blue, canary yellow, fiery sunset orange. Tulips are my favorite flower, and to be surrounded by so many stirs in me a deep affection for the Creator who sees fit to woo me with such beauty."

"The air is refreshing and still, and I am at peace as the perfume from countless flowers beckons sweetly. I walk on into the deep, cool green as Sufjan Stevens, Feist, and Rocky Votolato serenade me into serenity."

"The statues here are made of smooth gray stone, and they are stoic, respectable, their gazes dignified and resolute. But at night, I'm sure they slip down from their tall, ivy-covered pedestals and frolic through the gardens. How could they resist? I envy them that."

"Josh Rouse sings that "Love is gonna find a way," and he's right, of course. I believe him. But how could I not when I'm surrounded by so much of it?"

Atocha Station

There's a rainforest inside Atocha Station, filled with turtles, lizards, and birds. I kept expecting dinosaurs, too, but they must have been hiding.

I am captivated by this city.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nice to Meet You

Allow me to introduce you to the other kids that I teach in addition to Chloe, Victor, and Felix.

Suma and Maga came from India to Spain when they were seven years old. They are awesome girls and I have loved getting to know them. They don't speak much English, and I don't speak much Spanish, so this has been a learning experience for all of us, made possible with my amazing Spanish/English Dictionary and enthusiastic hand signals. Hopefully I've managed to teach them a little bit. They've definitely taught me.

When I told their mother how soon I will be leaving, but that I might return this summer, she nodded vigorously and said "Ojala," which means "God willing." I love when people say "Ojala."

The Garcia Family: Maria, Harry (the huge dog), Guillermo, Maria.

Miguel Garcia

Miguel, me, Guille, Maria.
The Garcias have been a huge blessing to me. The kids' mother, Maria, is such a sweet woman who never fails to bring me cafe con leche and an assortment of delicious Spanish galletas (cookies) during our lessons.

Miguel and I have very interesting conversations about futbol, cursing in Spanish vs. English, throwing up, and my incident with the clown the other day. After I told him about it, he began to mimic a clown swinging on a swingset, and said in a horrible creepy voice, "Hello, Cait. You want be my friend?" It was hilariously awful. The twins and I constantly play "Go Fish" and it is so much fun. Guille has an awesome sense of humor and Maria is super sweet.

Maria gave me some chorizo y jamon serrano to take home with me. She also invited me to come stay with them in their beach house in Alicante this summer, which would be amazing. She constantly talks about my sonrisa (smile) and calls me alegre. I asked Chantal about the translation for alegre- it literally means "happy," but Miguel told me it means more than that, though he wasn't able to describe it. Chantal said it's like a little girl at the playground, laughing and playing without a care in the world. Like a deep inner joy.

I love that. I love that the beauty and love I have experienced is evident to others. I want to show it more, and I want more of it. I love that the greatest force in the universe pours Himself out in trees and tulips and art and water and sky and sand, always there, always affirming, always showing a deeper and greater beauty than I knew the day before. I love that He has let me be a part of it, and that others can see it in me. It is not mine to claim. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Still Alive, Still in Spain

from my journal on 4/4:
"What a great time I had with Mom- Sorolla, cafe, pizza, talking, hotel, walking. It has been such a blessing to be able to meet up with her. I can't believe my time here is almost at an end. Impossible! Ugh, how bittersweet. What a treasure and joy this experience has been, Lord.

Thank You for moments like right now- sitting on a park bench in the sun under a corridor of trees at Plaza de Espana, stomach full of gratis cafe con leche y croissants thanks to Jose (one of the older men who works at the hotel bar). He offered to rent a room to me for cheap thirty minutes outside of Madrid for when I return. This was an interesting conversation, because at first I completely misunderstood and thought he meant rent a room for thirty minutes- needless to say, I was outraged and shocked that my friend would suggest such a thing, and was not sure what to do next except look for a hotel manager. Jose went to find one of his hotel buddies who speaks English (broken English at best) and the issue was resolved fairly quickly. As frustrated as I am with my inadequate Spanish it sure does make life interesting sometimes.

Walking to the hotel last night, the sun was setting and a cool breeze was coming with the dusk. I closed my eyes, still walking (in a move that I thought was quite daring), and let the coolness of the evening wash over me, savoring the feeling and smiling at the fact that I'm alive and still in Spain, if only for a little while longer."

A Spanish Soundtrack

if you know me well, you know i love music, and that i especially love making playlists. soundtracks, if you will, for various times and stages of my life. well, Spain has been no different, and i have spent the past few months noticing that certain songs fit ino certain parts of my day and seem to make me more aware of my surroundings- the people, the scenery, the culture of a city that is very much alive.
i think anything that makes you look around and pay attention to life is important, and id like that share that with you. so if youre interested in taking a more intimate look into my time in Madrid, or even if you just want some new music, read on, and enjoy.

Bus Playlist
"Ring of Fire" Johnny Cash
"Rains in Asia" Jump
"Whistle for the Choir" The Fratellis
"Sea Shell" Seabear
"Past in Present" Feist
"Roundabout" Axe Riverboy
"Chicago" Sufjan Stevens
"Silver Lining" Rilo Kiley

Rainy Sunday Morning Playlist
"Long Way Down" Guster
"#41" Dave Matthews Bans
"Love Will Come Through" Travis
"Float On" Modest Mouse
"Gospel Song" Magnet
"Wild Horses" The Rolling Stones
"Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" Amos Lee

Metro Playlist
"Don't Panic" Coldplay
"Wires" Athlete
"Sing" Travis
"Maybe Tomorrow" Stereophonics
"Son of Gold" David Vandervelde
"Writing's On the Wall" Album Leaf
"Could You Be Loved" Bob Marley
"Tourist" Athlete
"Title and Registration" Death Cab for Cutie
"Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" Joshua James

Walking Playlist
"Take Me Out" Franz Ferdinand
"Dirt Off Your Shoulders" Jay-Z
"My Moon, My Man" Feist
"Pieces of the People We Love" The Rapture
"Use It" The New Pornagraphers
"My Doorbell" The White Stripes
"Beautiful Collision" David Crowder
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" The Rolling Stones
"Reset" Mutemath