By Rachel Jones, FC 19 Costa Rica
Every day the glory of God is on display if I just take the time to stop, rest, and open my eyes. I have been learning this more and more each day during my time in Costa Rica. Oftentimes, it is so easy for me to run through my day feeling like I am always one step behind in working with all the patients in the therapy department at Santiago Crespo, getting home with sufficient time to help cook and clean, having purposeful prayer time, and maintaining both present and past relationships, and then I remember that God is inviting me in to these moments to truly be present in them and not just rush through them feeling exhausted and trying to do it all. Why put this extra pressure on myself? God is surely not asking me to do it all perfectly. Instead of looking at all the patients and calculating how much time I have in order to get it all done, He is inviting me to truly be present and fall in love with the steps of the process, not just have my eye on the end goal of completing everything at the end of the day. In slowing down, I can understand more of who He is, how much love He has to give, and the mystery of suffering in each of the señores I work with.
Each individual is full of so much love and at the same time so much suffering- in their own way, whether it is past abuse and neglect, familial problems, psychological disorders, dementia, or overall feelings of loneliness and depression. However, the smile they have to give, a kiss on the cheek, holding their hand, a tight hug, and their constant reminders of “Dios primero, si Dios quiere, and Gracias a Dios,” which all mean, “God first, if God wants it, and thanks be to God,” are beautiful reminders that amidst the suffering, there is so much beauty and so much for me to learn from them in the day to day gritty work of life. The key- I need to take time to slow down, take a deep breath, and really see each person for who they are in that moment and see each moment as the gift that it truly is. There is something so tragically beautiful about older adults in this nursing home type of setting- most of their day consists of waiting- waiting to be woken up, changed, eat breakfast, get snack, be wheeled out to the sun, wheeled back in to eat lunch, taken to their doctors appointments, escorted to therapy sessions, waiting for dinner, and then waiting to go to bed, that they have lost a sense in choosing what to do all day and filling their days up with so many tasks. Yet, the grace in which many accept this way of life, the slow pace of not hurrying onto the next task of the day, and the beauty in taking as much time as needed or wanted to really sit and enjoy the sun on one’s skin, the companionship of a friend at your side, the closeness and love of family coming to visit, and entrusting every day to God because you never know when it might be your last day, holds a sense of incredible beauty in it. When God nudges me to really take a look around, I think, “Wow, God, you have got me in exactly the right place.” I am being forced to learn to slow down, live in the present moment, and see God through the beautiful, small, quiet, and evaporating moments that are often overlooked in my fast-paced way of “doing” life. In these small moments, the steps of the process, the day-to-day work, God is revealing that He is truly there. His presence, his love, his grace, and his mercy are right there in front of me. I just need to constantly remind myself to take time to focus on the small moments of the day and not just the end result. God’s glory is shining brightly, and it often is not just at the end when the goal is completed, but it’s along the entire way if I only learn to take my eyes of the finish line and truly look around at the current beauty.