Colombia, Reconciliation, & Jesse & Raquel Visit
MOTHER’S DAY 2019
Mom, thanks for passing on to me your good taste!
Firing off a quick Mother’s Day greeting from a layover. We had to celebrate yesterday since I’m spending actual Mother’s Day by jetting out of the country. Somehow that feels like an oddly appropriate way to commemorate the crazy life I put my mom through by being such an adventure bird.
Grateful for such an amazing mom and for a number of other powerful women who have played a mega role in my life.
STUCK IN MIAMI
I’m supposed to be in Bogota right now (actually 48 hours ago) but as you can see, this isn’t it.
It’s been an extremely messed up travel day and I’m not really inclined to believe anything American Airlines announces at this point. We’ve been given a dozen different reasons for not being able to get a plane over the Gulf and at least half were easily avoidable.
It’s a good thing I enjoy being abroad as much as I do. Transit is the price to pay for travel.
Frustrated to have my time in Colombia cut in half, especially after getting so much good stuff arranged there prior, but sometimes you gotta compartmentalize so what’s left of an ordeal can still be a worthwhile experience.
To put it simply, Colombia is beautiful.
I had a feeling it would be a pretty country, but I underestimated just how breathtaking these mountainscapes would be in every direction. You don’t hear often enough about it’s beauty.
The Colombia of movies is a caricature of drug lords and crime, and while those play a part in some of its recent history, it’s such a one dimensional representation.
We miss out when we treat places that way. The sensationalism robs us of the better stories. The ones that make places far away feel closer to our hearts and relevant to our everyday lives.
That’s what brings me here. This week, I have the rare and special opportunity to get to know the deeper, richer story of Colombia. I can’t wait to share bits of what I find.
“It’s going to take them a long time to forgive us for everything we have done.”
Reconciliation is an extremely difficult, beautifully redemptive, and tragically complex process. How do you sit and listen to the stories of somebody whose family you killed? How do you learn to understand what drove a sixteen year old down a dark path?
I’ve always been drawn to stories of reconciliation and healing in areas that experienced extreme conflict. Rwanda. Cambodia. South Africa. Most of it feels above my understanding, but it reminds me of an extremely important truth- that it’s possible.
When Milmer invited me to Colombia, the main draw was the chance to meet with from former FARC combatants, to hear their gut wrenching stories, and to learn about their process of healing and restoration, and the role that environmental renewal had to play.
Nothing about this is easy. Hearing their stories was difficult. Figuring out how to relay them in a sensitive, empathetic, dignified way will also be a challenge. But it’s important.
It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Today’s horrors don’t need to be tomorrow’s realities.
GRATEFUL FOR COLOMBIA
After such an impactful week spent in Colombia, the clearest way to describe how I’m feeling is grateful. What an opportunity.
I’m grateful to Milmer, for persistently inviting me to Colombia and organizing literally everything in between my arrival and departure. Kind of an impossible opportunity to say no to.
I’m grateful to Carlos and Diana and Rafa and Rosita and Juanito and Angelita and everybody who helped facilitate such an eye opening visit.
I’m thankful to the people of Viotá- the ex combatants, the former victims, the healers: I am all too aware that the stories they shared with me weren’t easy moments to revisit.
There are still so many things to process, so many stories to share. And I look forward to sharing them. The stories about coffee and the haciendas, history and the future, birds and waterfalls, guerillas and farmers, schools and memorials. Look out for these intermingled with stories from the rest of life.
I’m just thankful. Sometimes I can’t believe I get to live this life in my body.
MILESTONES AT 28
Last week I turned 29 and this week my body is holding me accountable for all the travel and running around with an angry stomach.
Know what though? It’s all been worth it. And I have an excuse now to self medicate with pho.
If you talked to me back in December, I probably would’ve said that 28 was the hardest year of my life and that I felt stuck. The past few months though have been a totally different story. And a whirlwind.
We’ve bought a house. We’ve both taken big steps forward at work and with creative projects. I got to make meaningful connections in Haiti and Atlanta and Nashville and Vancouver, while learning how to be more present at home.
I’ve learned that the words of John Steinbeck ring true: Nothing good gets away. Things don’t always happen on my time, but showing up is what counts.
I’m thankful for every milestone for sure, but I’m also thankful for every moment in between milestones that taught me something. That’s where the growing actually happens.