Magical Moments Lately

A wall in downtown Tegucigalpa that resembles a patchwork quilt.

In the face of country-wide drought and humanitarian issues in Honduras, I ‘ve begun to collect heart-warming moments and short stories to lift our spirits. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Buenas Dias: It’s early morning, and although I cannot see the street, I know the guard is standing outside. The familiar shape of his thickly-soled shoes obscures the thin space of light beneath the door. He is waiting for coffee. As I click the lock and open the door, his toothy grin beams in response to the mug I hand him. He sees me unvarnished- barefoot, half awake, in pj’s with unbrushed hair. His wide smile is contagious, his gratitude evident, and I am thankful for this happy exchange.


Gossamer Wings: A lovely, grand, and shimmering moth with irridescent purples and rich browns shared her beauty with us for the better part of a day.


A Wishing Tree: Playing outdoors, Ramsay and I noticed something electric blue in our banana tree. Brad climbed a ladder so we could take a closer look. After some research, we discovered this is called a Traveler’s Tree (how appropriate for our lifestyle)!  Its origins are traced to Madagascar, where it is believed this is a wishing tree that can fulfill your wildest dreams and desires!  (We did ask the tree for rain… and it came in sheets later that day after a long, brittle dry spell….perhaps a coincidence, or maybe sheer magic)?


A  Light in the Darkness:  I was truly inspired by “Pixeles De Vida,” an impactful photography exhibit captured by Honduran students ages 15-23 years old. Their pictures showcase hope and good works in Rivera Hernandez; historically, one of the most violent and crime-riddled communities in the country. These particular images and uplifting stories stood out to me:

*Pixeles de Vida is a project funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.


Finding a Lost Treasure: While having coffee with friends, I happened upon a misplaced journal. In efforts to find its owner, I flipped through the pages. No contact information was found, but I haven’t given up. For this woman whose nineteen year old dreams in 1999 were to “find beauty in everything” and “become a dancer,” I would love to meet her and remind this (now forty-something) woman of her travels with friends and beautiful personal journey.


A Sea Offering: On a recent jaunt to El Salvador, I walked slowly along a tranquil expanse of fine, dark-brown, volcanic sand that sparkled like gold in the afternoon sun. The ebbing tide left behind intricate snail tracks and a lacey ribbon of foam. Wading in and out of the surf’s edge, I lifted up intermittent pieces of broken shells to study them. Near an outcropping of rocks, I stopped to listen to the water echo in its caverns. Glancing behind me, only my path of meandering footprints marked the surface. Moments later, right at my feet, lay a perfect, beautiful sand dollar, like an offering from the sea.

 

May there be magical moments in your days.

-Tracy

 

 

Seeing Beauty and the Beast With Crooked Blue Glasses

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     When I pulled my favorite blue sunglasses out of my purse today, I noticed they looked bent. When I put them on, the frame was crooked.  “What an analogy for life sometimes,” I thought, “seeing things a little blue and off-kilter.” There are simply those days when, even as someone who strives to be positive and look for the silver lining, enough negativity seeps in through struggles of friends and family and shocking world events that it’s hard to look on the bright side.

     Do you find that sometimes more information is not necessarily better? (This is why I stopped watching the daily morning news before arming myself with coffee and a hot shower). Why let stories sensationalized with fear and disaster shape the beginning of a beautiful day? I can read all that later in the day once I’ve found my footing.

     Especially, lately, as we connect with neighbors and colleagues, and learn more about the community around us, we are discovering a very dark side of Africa. She is the dichotomy of Beauty and the Beast. In particular, Swaziland is a beautiful country, but its citizens are not empowered. Kids have to bribe corrupt employers with their only savings to get a job. Women have little voice. There are very real accounts of car accidents from treacherous roads, deaths from malaria, abject poverty, unnecessary loss of life due to lack of training and equipment at local clinics, child victimization and horrifying witch-doctor, black magic rituals involving cannibalism in the forest. Stories so incomprehensibly awful that it sounds like savagery from the Middle Ages or something out of Joseph Conrad’s  novel, Heart of Darkness (basis for the film “Apocalypse Now”).

      Is this possibly happening, really happening in villages just kilometers from our house? In 2014? It will scare the hell out of you, and make you feel frustrated with third-world solutions; defeated that so much is broken, you don’t know where to start.

     Deeply disturbing “muti” killings are frequently reported here; a kind of ritualistic religion, where body parts are harvested to gain power, wisdom, and good luck. This especially happens before elections. (If this sounds like I am making this up, there are plenty of newspaper articles to read, such as this one): http://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/swazi-albinos-fear-muti-killings-before-elections-1.1521290#.U1tVQcfYUwg

     This is when trying to understand cultural differences is vital in order to feel sane. Priests visit schools to exorcise demons of possessed children with “many heads.” Natives with AIDS are told to bring a chicken to the village doctor, who slits the chicken’s throat and waves it in circles above their head to heal them. And they believe in it. Believe it works. Or they think sleeping with a virgin gets rid of HIV, even in the face of so much good education from NGO’s and AID organizations here.  Thank goodness for the doctors, missionaries, leaders, and volunteers who are driven and determined to help. They must have to constantly keep perspective, focusing on saving lives when they can, and making a difference for the greater good of humanity where they can. I applaud them.

     I wonder how they don’t throw their hands up in despair and give up, but then I see a joyful child who has nothing, waving and smiling with light and innocence that melts your heart. And the genuine peacefulness and friendliness of the Swazi people, the potential of this country, and its gorgeous, breathtaking views. At the end of the day,  there is more good than evil that surrounds us, more hope than defeat. More beauty than beast.

Keep perspective out there,

Starry