In January, God gave us the gift of rest.
A whole week of sun and sand and blue ocean, and eating delicious food I didn’t have to cook on dishes I didn’t have to wash.
It was wonderful.
But even as I was stretched out full length in the sun, uncurling inside and out, luxuriously unwinding from the cold weather and stresses of life in Central Asia, I found my mind irresistibly drawn to the question of “How can I preserve this feeling when I get back?”
Every moment in the sunshine I had to choose to live in that moment and enjoy everything it held, instead of fretting over how to plunk it in formaldehyde so I could take it home with me.
On the flight home, my suitcase in the belly of the plane filled with dried papaya, shells and silk scarves, I felt the heaviness start to descend again. The closer we flew to the cold and the dreariness of bureaucracy and politics and frozen pipes, the more my heart sank. Forgetting my slightly tanned skin, massaged shoulders, lighter heart, and images of blue ocean filling my mind’s eye… I could feel the fingers tightening around my stomach.
Frustrated, I spent the first few days home spreading reminders around my house: bowls of shells, a windchime, woven baskets… I wore my new silk scarf every single day, and in defiance, I even layered my new sundresses with warm leggings and a merino undershirt to try to preserve the tropical feeling a little longer.
It’s not that I don’t love our life here. It is truly everything I dreamed for my life to be - deep down, at the heart level, where it counts. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else or be ministering to anybody else. But living in Central Asia is just plain hard sometimes. It’s inconvenient, frustrating, depressing - a daily fight to stay joyful, cheerful and focused. Hence, the reason our week of resting in the sun was so essential and delightful - and why it is always hard to come down with a thud.
So… what‘s the secret to staying sunny and relaxed in a stressful, challenging environment? Well, if you have any thoughts, leave them in the comments, since I sure don’t have it all figured out yet!
But part of it, I think, is choosing to be all there, right where you are, wherever you are. I chose to be all in the sun while I was in the sun, and when I got back to the snow, I had to choose to be all there in the snow too. Our first week back home from our holiday we went sledding, drank hot chocolate, lit candles, watched movies, lit a fire, cuddled up with cozy blankets and read new books from a wonderful package from home that was waiting for us when we got back.
And I wore my sundresses and listened to my windchime and caressed my shells, and put the ocean on my computer desktop. I think part of being all there is weaving in bits of everything you love, wherever you are. Don’t you?
What’s one way you’ve found to be all there, wherever you are?