Colombia Past, The Struggle, & A Pregnancy Announcement
“Contemplative practices are held by postures of solitude, silence, and stillness.
In solitude we develop the capacity to be present.
In silence we cultivate the ability to listen.
And in stillness we acquire the skill of restraint and self control.”
Seven years ago, I was living overseas with limited internet access, no way of transportation, and no easy way to communicate with back home. One thing I did have with me was a book about ignatian spirituality, and the isolation turned into the best environment to discover the beauty of contemplative prayer.
Learning how to pray beyond words, to relate to God beyond head knowledge, and to be very present brought my spiritual life into a new phase.
Phileena’s book is one of the best presentations of contemplative spiritual practices I’ve come across. It shares both practical entry points and the big ideas behind the practices. I also love how it spends a good deal of time focused on how contemplation and activism go hand in hand.
I’m also excited to say that Phileena will be one of my first podcast guests. I had the pleasure of interviewing her about a month ago.
A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
We’ve got some very good news. ❤️
THANKS FOR THE WISHES
Okay, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all the warmth and well wishes and congratulations. Seriously.
I try not to fawn over social media likes too much, but I’ll admit that it was fun seeing them come in from all of you who I’ve met through so many different things over the years. College and internships and churches and travels and family and everything. My favorite feeling is being surrounded by a crowd of loving people, and I’m happy to know our kid’s get a good head start with that.
Also, a huge thank you to Jesse for these shots and some of the other ones you’ll see here in the near future. Thanks for racing sunset with us out to two different sites while in San Diego. Happy to have you capture the moment.
SAFE PLACE/BIGGEST ADVENTURE
Before we even started dating, we agreed that the type of person we wanted to end up with should feel like “a cozy sweater.” You know, someone you feel totally safe around. Somebody who feels like home.
Then when we got married, we went with the theme of The Biggest Adventure. We decorated the venue with a bunch of our old camping and travel gear. We named the tables after places we’d been and fed everybody s’mores.
Then this week, Deanna shared this quote with me:
“Fall in love with someone who is both your safe place and your biggest adventure.”
Oh snap! She just mashed up our two favorite descriptions of a thriving relationship. And in a way that acknowledges the contrast between them but the way they go together.
After all, isn’t that kind of the dream? To go off on adventures to new places, to see wonders and to taste the unfamiliar- then to return back home with stories to share with the ones you can totally be yourself around?
Safe place. Biggest adventure. I’m starting to think all the best things in life are paradoxes.
COLOMBIA WAY BACK
Will be sharing a few more Colombia stories over the weekend because there’s plenty more worth sharing.
We went into our trip with a lens of past, present, future. We wanted a more nuanced look at Colombia’s recent conflict, beyond the sensationalist stuff. We wanted to understand how things were changing and what it actually looks like to live in a post-conflict zone. We also spoke to many, many people with a vision for the future and we wanted to see how they planned to be part of it.
Before really digging in, though, we were greeted by the very distant past.
These boulders were less than a football field away from where we slept at night. And they all featured these very vivid petroglyphs. Out in the open and extremely accessible.
These go back to the Pre-Columbian Era, and if you’ve seen the album art of Vampire Weekend’s latest, this is where most of that visual inspiration comes from. Real distinct spirals and waves. It was amazing being able to walk up to it like that, and a good reminder that Colombia’s history goes back further than the time that it’s been called Colombia.
There would be plenty of moments full of Wonder on this trip, but this was one of the earliest.
We’ve really been enjoying sharing the news about having a baby the past few days. But I also knew that when we started sharing that publicly, that I also wanted to share some of the harder parts to the story.
We started trying to conceive around the time we went to Italy about a year ago. We both absolutely knew we wanted to be parents and we were in a good spot. So we started trying and kept trying for the next year and month after month, nothing happened.
Since then we’ve definitely heard from a lot of people who tried for 4, 5, even 8 years before they were successful. One year isn’t long compared to that, but because of some other complicated health stuff, we had reason to think it just might not be in the cards for us.
We were (and still are) interested in adoption, but we’d always said we’d wanted to go for kids both ways. And I don’t think I realized how much I wanted a biological kid until it started to look like it wasn’t gonna happen.
The latter part of last year taught me so much about hope. How you don’t have to feel optimistic to have hope. Hope and hopelessness can almost feel the same, the difference is in the choices that you make. The choices to stay in the game, to never totally give up.
I know during that season, other people’s baby announcements were pretty hard to see. (And I hated that it was like that! I would’ve rather just celebrated along with people.) So if you’re in a similar spot- maybe literally, or maybe just some other way you’re feeling stuck, please stay in the game and don’t give up.
Whenever you see Colombia’s struggles depicted on screen, it usually sets the story circa 2003, in the heat of the conflict years. That’s starting the story from the middle, however. The seeds of conflict were planted over 100 years prior.
Colombia is one of the world’s top coffee countries and Viotá was actually one of the earliest sites the coffee industry emerged. But the way it happened wreaked havoc on people.
Most coffee was grown on plantations owned by Spanish or French overlords. It was basically sharecropping- an extremely exploitative process for the Colombian farmers. Most lived on haciendas next to the plantations, would work for scraps, and would be mistreated by the owners. Women workers were especially vulnerable:
These systems eventually ended, but their damage still lingers. And by the 1970’s it had left the area in a state of having limited infrastructure, lots of discontentment, and a sense of desperation and low opportunity. The locals checked all the right boxes for being conscripted by armed ideological groups, which is where the recent conflict was birthed out of.