Some of you have asked me why I came to Costa Rica and have wanted to know more of my experience here. To that end, I’ve decided to take this week and share a bit of my story. Since yesterday marked the anniversary of the first time I set foot in Costa Rica, it seems appropriate to start at the beginning. After a fleeting ten days in this incredible place, I returned to the United States and my dear friend and tour guide asked me to send him my thoughts on the trip. Here’s a bit of that reflection…
Every now and then, we receive an unexpected gift. We can almost imagine God smiling as He sees us unwrap it, anticipating our immense joy when we actually see the thing that He has given. Surely, a little happy dance is going on in heaven as we open gifts like that.
What did I experience? The first thing was an invitation to relax, let go of fears, and live in the moment. As a person who spends a lot of time working, planning, preparing, and fulfilling the needs and expectations of others, this was an important and beautiful opportunity for me. It took a little getting used to…being out of cell phone range of the world, being away from everything I know, taking in the incredible beauty of the landscape. It was so freeing!
It happened though. Without really being aware of it, I found myself…that is, I found my self. I allowed the situation to be all it could be without judging it or manipulating it, simply loving it. I was a girl seeing a great big world and what seemed so intimidating at first, became a challenge I wanted to win, a moment to embrace and enjoy, and a chance to become more than I had been before. I wanted to be a new and more complete me. I wanted to be better than I have ever been.
I loved everything, from the generous hearts of the people as they delivered their wares in the market and shared tastes of exotic fruits, to the rumbling rainstorms that hit the tin roofs like marching bands across the sky, to the realization how very alike we are, all over the world. We all have the same need to be valued, to be loved, to be accepted simply by being ourselves. It has nothing to do with money or expertise or status, it simply is the desire of our hearts.
I loved the city because it is rich in texture and color and design, intermingled with God’s design of flowers and fruit trees and crystal clear night skies. It overflows with the complexities of making life work and the simplicity of letting it unfold. I loved the rain forest with its abundance of life-giving plants, sounds of life that echo through the night, and gracious people who are happy with what God has given them, able to see His abundance everywhere. I loved the idea that people embrace the design of life and blossom fully under the care of a loving and generous God. I loved the smell of the mud that brought me back to the earth and to my foundation and robed me in a kind of splendor no evening gown could ever fashion. I loved the waterfall that threatened me and then embraced me with its power and beauty. I loved not wearing makeup for days at a time and though I suspect I was less than beautiful, I felt good anyway. I loved the idea that maybe for a few minutes I didn’t have to prove I was worthy enough to receive this gift.
My spirit is alive in a new way, my heart is overflowing with joy at this discovery, my soul can’t quite take it in. My gratitude is to the God of my heart who knew more than I did how much I needed this experience.
I’ve been here seven months now and those reflections are still the truth. This gift to me has been immeasurable.
I’ll tell you more about that as the week goes on. Wherever you are today, may you recognize the gifts God has for you.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. James 1:17