Sunday, November 30, 2014

Giving Thanks.

Well folks,  it's been over a year.  I should apologize, I might, but I also may justify.  I feel like this year has been the fastest in my life so far.  Work and life on Colombia's bold Caribbean Costa have been inspiring, challenging, and just plain FULL.  It has been a 2014 full of openings for me, and liberation, as I grow in consciousness of my place here in Colombia, my inner darkness and light, and the complexities of the world around me.  I know and feel more, and as the circle expands, so does the outside edge- of what I don't know, what I am uncertain about, and what remains to emerge.  I want to write a few reflections on that process to you, in the spirit of a profound thankfulness and a pregnant hope, in keeping with the rituals of november and december.  Here are a few things:

I forgot about Thanksgiving, and made my way to the central office after a tumultuous month of barely sleeping in my own bed, as I traipsed around the mountains working with the youth team that I help facilitate (more on that later).  I turned up exhausted, to hear the good news that a US friend had found time in her insane schedule to bake a pumpkin pie (!).  We showed our office mates how to squirt whipped cream from an aerosol can into their mouths, and we went to the late showing of the new Hunger Games movie.  As we rode home on the moto, we talked about the resistance- what does it mean to rise up, what are the risks, who are the people- not the intellectual or political elite, how do we keep things focused on the people and how do we keep your humanity in all of that.  Thank you for a team that cares for each other, where I always feel more like Larisa and rarely like a gringa.  Thank you for being part of the resistance, and keeping love as the center of that.  Thank you for the pueblo, the people.

I spent a week hiking on muddy, steep trails through the mountains to co-facilitate encounters with youth in the communities we accompany.  It's rainy season, so the only way in and out of many communities is on foot.  For a week, we daily walked for about 3 hours, and arrived exhausted and sweaty, only to steel our nerves (I co- facilitate with the youth leaders of the movement who are often facilitating their first meetings) and get ready to lead reflective activities, organize lunch (no small feat where there is no power or stores in the communities), and hike out again.  It was the coolest.  Thank you for communities that are thrilled to get visitors in the rainy season.  Thank you for cool streams to bathe in, for spring water, for massive plates of rice and chicken.  Thank you for joining our reflections about stereotypes of mountain people- backward, stupid, uneducated, unable to speak well, dirty- and flipping them positive- full of wonder, extremely competent, reflective, hardworking.  Thank you for producing food, farmers of the world.  Thank you for taking time out to accompany each other- to hike together.

Yesterday my housemate moved out, after a tense many months of sharing space.  Simply, it wasn't the best situation for either of us, and we are both grateful to have our own space.  On Saturday morning, I awoke and felt..  lonely and nervous despite relief.  My housemate owned most of the furniture we had used, and the house was literally empty- I feared it would stay that way.  I spent the day calling family and friends and getting back in touch after a long time out.  In the evening, four friends stopped by and we laughed and teased each other and shared a makeshift late dinner.  I woke up and was so profoundly happy to see five plastic chairs around a small table, which we had hurriedly set up the night before.  I had talked with someone about loneliness and she asked me to visualize the opposite- I had said, chairs set around a kitchen table.  Thank you for sharing space, for showing up.  Thank you for accountable relationships and dialogue.  Thank you for friends who love to shoot the breeze.

A friend was reflecting about the Hunger Games the other day- about the brief moment when they are hunting and stop by a stream to rest, and saying that that is how things should be, and we so often forget.  I have felt distant from the pain and rage that is crashing in waves across the US right now because of racial and economic violence.  I think sometimes that I used to feel more rage, and wonder if I am sleeping more- if I am less sensitive to what is going on around me.  I worry that I need to open my eyes, and yesterday I remembered the hundred or so times in the last few weeks that I had the chance to stop by a stream to rest- when I bent over double laughing with the kids I work with, when I jumped and screamed at my favorite futbol team in the local tournament, when I've danced to the serious beats of Caribbean music.  I remember when we hosted a delegation and were crossing a lake to travel to the airport, and one by one we launched ourselves off the boat and into the water.  Our clothes would dry later.  Thank you for kids and for spirit.  Thank you for, despite everything, spaces where laughter is the shared purpose.  Thank you for daily grounding moments- and for taking steps down from the cloud of darkness circling the world to the streams that run through it.  Thank you for a tough and mighty community in the US, that is standing up.  Thank you for the words STAY WOKE, and for wakefulness to joy, knowing that it is resistance.

 Mucho amor.  Lari

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