Wanderlust Debunked

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Wanderlust. A strong desire or impulse to wander or travel the world. Generally paired with the girly ideals of seemingly graceful map-of-the-world tattoos, necklaces with delicate little mountains, watches with airplanes as hands, mountain-background Instagram photos with the word rhythmically sprawled across the image in flowy golden letters, both the idea and the very word “Wanderlust” are seeping into the minds of those who seem to desire so deeply only one thing: To travel.

And, let’s be real. I would be lying if I said I too were not struck with the lingering desire to go beyond what I’ve experienced already and go somewhere new and refreshing where I can be whoever I want to be and experience something I will never experience where I currently am now. After all, we are the generation that travels. But, I ask, can we get beyond the word “travel”? Can we talk about the second part of that little word for a second; the term “lust”?

In no culture ever has the word “lust” ever been conceived in good connotation. It is unhealthy, irrational, and dehumanizing; simplistic and thoughtless. Those who lust after someone or something will often do what it takes in order to get that pleasure. Lust can be sparked by jealousy, by greed, by the inability to maintain self-control. It is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason, folks.

Does your mind become nearly consumed with the idea of going somewhere, but doesn’t think beyond the very act of going? This, in essence, is what wanderlust seems to encompass.

I guess I’m just tired of a culture that is so thoughtless.

One of the most humanizing things about spending time in Costa Rica was experiencing how differently the Ticos lived in comparison with to the image of Costa Rica that so often pops into people’s minds. The average person lives in deep separation of exotic beach resorts, nightly piña coladas, and coconut-rich palm trees ready to give in a beachy back yard.  Within my short time in the beautiful land, I quickly realized that there is not one, but two Costa Ricas: Tourist Costa Rica and Costa Rica of the natives. Only one of them is real.

Identify with something greater than “wanderlust”. Go somewhere to learn. Go to experience, go to give. Let it shape your ideals, allow the experience to seep into your soul and make you think. Think about who you are, where you’re going, who you want to be.  Traveling is extremely humbling if you let it.

 

 

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The Good Creatures

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I met a puppy in the mountains of Monte Verde. There he was, just sitting there on a step, looking at the world around him in a kind of contemplative gaze. He had curiosity in his eyes, but remained still. The puppy’s feet were caked in dirt, yet his thick fur wasn’t matted. It was clear the soft and silent creature had adapted to such an environment; he didn’t belong to anyone here. This pup was a roamer of the rainy green mountain jungle. And, of course, just like all puppies, if not more, he was really, really cute.

Animals are some of the only creatures we are able to love completely and indiscriminately, something we have such a hard time doing with each other. We love these creatures for what they are and what they are not. Perhaps our dominion over and likeness to such creatures is reflective of God’s dominion over us: we watch them make silly decisions, run around in circles, get a mouthful of dirt or poo or roll in the trash or whatever, but at the end of the day we are always given what it is we need and are a part of a ceaseless and forgiving love.

A passionate bishop in the 2nd century, Gregory of Nyssa worked on merging the truths of science and the truths of  faith. One of his main areas of focus was the study of animals and their relation to man. Good ol’ Greg’s argument is essentially that animals are created for the good of humans. It is the ox that tills the land, the sheep wool that keeps us warm, the alligator skin that protects us in battle, the wood of the tree that creates our ships and houses. Humans have a deeply-rooted dependency on animals and nature in order to survive and, in turn, for animals to serve their purpose to God.

Now, there should be something bothering you about this argument here.

If humans are created to be so dependent on animals, then why are they no longer a part of our everyday lives? The only creatures I regularly come into contact with is my dog, the birds, squirrels, and the melancholy farm cows I pass while connecting the dots between Texas and Oklahoma via I-35.

But maybe this is a part of the problem. It is no secret that we are not exactly taking the best care of our precious Earth. I think we all know that regressing back to the pre-industrial revolution is not the solution; technological and mechanical innovation is natural and good for human progress and development. But, I will dare to say that the solution probably lies beyond the easy recycling or the designation of reserves to keep our greedy, grimy hands off of  certain parts of God’s green earth. If animals and the environment were created to serve humans, are we not depriving them of their purpose by only widening the gap between our everyday lives and the great outdoors?

Is this perhaps why we are so willing to trash our oceans, pollute or skies, slaughter thousands of animals a day just to sustain our everyday lives, because we lack the understanding (or acknowledgement) that such a creation is created for us, and, in turn, we are responsible for it? 

What if we made an effort to integrate ourselves within environment again? Is it possible to maintain a symbiotic relationship between ourselves and the natural world around us? How difficult it would be to create such a relationship again.

I loved this puppy in Monte Verde.  I loved this puppy because he was a puppy and it was almost unnatural for me not to. I loved this puppy because he was a living creature. I loved this puppy because he was simple, he was unique, and he was good.

If Gregory was right, then does our abuse of what was created for us reflect how we believe God looks after us? How do you believe that God loves you?

I’m still thinking about this.

Peace.

Mud

Cafe Cristiana

This house is dark. It is nice for sleeping or watching movies but the lazy residue of those who live here fog up the windows and let little to no sunlight in. It is quiet. It is sullen. It is a beast with missing potential, only dripping what is left of the dry remains onto the carpet, staining it in soft, silent argument. The slow death of action and thought cling to the walls like dust waiting to be drawn in.

Why is it that we go to beaches, climb mountains, slip into the cool bonds of a free-flowing river in order to find our greatest sense of peace? Why do we awe in the beauty of the sunset, the promise of the dawn, the feel of the cool, wet mud beneath or feet?

Imagine squishing your feet around in this mud. Do you feel the chunks of clay, the rough outline of a leaf brush against your toes, a worm wiggle under the arch of your foot? Is it a thick, heavy mud, or is it creamy, the product of a recent rain? Is it a dark, almost black or does it gleam a rusty red? Is your mud warm and gentle or is does it have a biting chill? Let it slosh up onto your ankles. Roll up your jeans if you’re wearing them; perhaps allow a hand to slide into the slippery concoction to feel it just a bit more.

In Costa Rica we visited Cafe Cristina, an all-natural coffee farm where everything is cultivated on the land. Every bit of what would be considered “waste” is part of an intricate process in which the elements in the air and a wild combination of worms and beetles break down the extra grass, suffocating weeds, fall brush, and rotting seeds and turned into a compost that carries more nutrients than any man-made fertilizer. This compost in turn is used for the growth of new plants and trees. The natural process is cost-effective, cuts down on the amount toxins emitted into the air, land, and water, and significantly reduces the amount of waste the farm produces. The whole thing is more than a respect for nature, it is a connection to it.

Perhaps this draw is due to the simple fact that we are created from such nature.

Earth was created from the debris of gasses and dust that were left over from the formation of the sun, which in turn collided to form comets and asteroids. Over millions of years these collisions began to form planets. Water began to show up as the earliest volcanoes ejected mass amounts of steam, and, nearly 3 billion years ago, new underwater bacteria used a combination of this water, carbon dioxide, and the sun’s energy to create an energy of its own- photosynthesis. This established oxygen in the oceans and atmosphere, allowing for life to develop into the complex form that it is today.

Life began with dust. Life began when God took this dust and breathed into it the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  And, just like the mud we loved to slosh around in when we were young or the beautiful mountains that take our breath away or the mysterious jungle floor that is painted with hundreds of thousands of living creatures, we are created from the dust of the ground, and this dust is good. We are Good.

There is a reason we go outside to rest and find peace. It is in this wilderness that we find home, that we find ourselves, and, ultimately, that we find God.