“Home is where one starts from.” East Coker, Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
Home for me is not a place, but people. The people who have seen all of my ugly and love me anyways. The people who laugh and cry and share life with me.
And I was gifted with the opportunity to share a week with four of these people, the people who carry my heart, and give them a taste of the beautiful city and country where I’m learning to make a new home.
We laughed, we cried, we ate tortillas, we haggled and we got ripped off. I got to be a tourist in my own town and was pleasantly surprised to see how much I’ve learned and grown in the past nine months. But mostly, we had a heck of a lot of fun. We laughed at my dad attempting to speak Spanish (to his defense, he studied French in high school). We hobbled over the cobblestones of Antigua. We just so happened to run into ten of my closest friends around town. We bought art from my friend, Joel, handmade boots from my friend, Elio, and chocolate from my friend, Pablo. We hiked, a lot. We hiked to the top of the Cross, to the office where I work, to a magnificent lakeside getaway carved into the side of a cliff at Lake Atitlan. We kayaked across the smooth as glass water to splash upon a lakeside worship service and baptism. We dipped in a hot tub heated with a wood stove. We rode in the back of pick up truck with 15 Guatemalans and sped across the lake in a water taxi regrettably named, Titanic. We were welcomed into the home of my friends and coworkers. We almost witnessed my brother knock down a tiny salsa instructor in one fell swoop because he was dancing “too sexy” with me.
It was glorious.
I was reminded of the beauty all around me here and the beauty in the part of me that still aches for home.
But I am here. I am whole. The missing and the aching is a sign that I am whole, not that I am part, or less than. It is a testament to the goodness of the community I left and to which I will return. It’s rare, this type of community, the home I have with my real family and the “family” of friends and sisters who have welcomed me back in San Diego. And I long for it, ache for it with all of my being.
But I remind myself, I am here. I am whole. Today I am stopping to see the grace. What grace it is that I am here. That I’ve learned to navigate a new city and a new country. That I’m learning still how to love and connect and engage with people across cultures, with people who are very different from me.
And thankfulness rises.
In a town where I can’t make it to the park without greeting someone I know, but have an exceedingly short list of friends I could really count on when things get tough, it was a refresher for my soul to be with the people who have loved me for a long time and will continue to love me for a long time still. Thank you for the taste of home, of where I started from, and the reminder that ALL IS GRACE.
Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip:
Don’t you want to come visit, too?!