We made a trip back to the states again this summer. With so many connections of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and church family, it seems like the right way to spend our vacation time. We went for a little longer this year, and finished our time with a few days at the beach. Our first night there, it started pouring. Thanks to a friend’s hospitality, we were sleeping in a trailer and had a dry place to sleep. But my heart woke up in the night unsettled. It was the accumulation of so many emotions beyond what I was allowing myself to feel. I couldn’t name the feelings well, and spent the morning just feeling grumpy and out of place.
Our friends (who loaned us the space) came to visit for that day, and brought enthusiasm and encouragement. We ended up at the beach in the rain. Our girls loved it; the rain served a new playmate.
The day before I had noticed the variety of people who come to this particular beach, good for children as there are breakers placed far out to keep the waves low. Not long after spotting a group of Amish women in the water with their dresses, a black muslim mama waded in with her hijab, her two sons and a football. A white dad ushering in his two year-old stopped to admire her form as she launched the ball way out to her sons.
In the rain, we mostly had the beach to ourselves. In my grumpy, solitary state, I picked up a container of bubbles my mama had given the girls. As I lifted the wand into the air, I was surprised that I didn’t even need to blow on it, the wind alone formed dozens of bubbles and sent them magically up and out to the ocean. It was a moment of spiritual breakthrough. The bubbles became my container for all my leftover emotions from the trip. They were each lifted by the wind and carried out to sea. The wind felt like the presence of God in my life. Not visible, yet strong and present.
After about a half hour, the rain let up, and more families ventured out to enjoy their Saturday at the beach. This time there was a family of olive-skinned people playing next to us. Two dads waded far out with their kids, speaking to them in deep, confident tones. By that point my friend had taken up the bubble wand, which served as entertainment for the people in the water. When the dads watched the bubbles pass above their heads, one of them got a huge grin and exclaimed in broken english, “SO MANY BUBBLES.” He lunged with childlike eagerness to try to break one floating above his head. We all giggled. It was one of those inexplicable moments, where there is a synchronization of hearts. My heart with Gods. Our hearts as humans who don’t speak the same language, but live a shared experience. I caught a glimpse in that moment of how I imagine heaven to be.
Once the clouds rolled in again, we decided to call it a day and stop for ice cream on our way home. They had the news on, and I watched in horror as they showed images of Charlottesville. While I was on the beach enjoying a moment of joy and harmony, a few hundred miles away, peaceful resisters were beaten down. This is the intense reality of my country; a place of sharp contrasts right now. I know that was also true before we left. I’m sure we have changed just as much as our beloved country in the time we are living away. But the contrast of these two particular images creates a challenge for me as I think of coming back. I am worried it may take more courage to return to my home than it did to leave it. And I have been working since I got back, to tend to my worry through gratitude.
I’m grateful for our lives here in Mexico, for all my children are able to live and see beyond what I can show them in my own cultural context. I am grateful for a home to think of returning to, as so many people in this world are leaving their homes with no hope of ever returning. I am so grateful for those moments we lived together at the ocean’s edge. I am challenged to fuel my soul with those images of shared experience, to live my life with that energy force empowered by the wind of God’s spirit.