I had no idea what to expect here in Spain. A first trip to Europe seemed both exciting and nerve wracking. But barely one week in and I feel like I have been here for months. The sweet people of Almería have welcomed us into their lives, and their families-- in the midst I have begun to be immersed in a culture so different and unique in this hidden little town.
1. Eating later and longer. We normally eat lunch around 3 and dinner around 10. What a shock this was to me at first, but now I love it. People here dont rush in the middle of the day to stuff some food down their throat, but rather make a point to come together with their friends and family to enjoy a meal together.
For dinner we have Tapas (small snacks or appetizers) again, together with the family.
2. EVERYONE stays up incredibly late, including the children. At first this terrified me because I absolutely love going to bed early (and I'm sure all my friends and family can attest to that). However, here it seems like everyone just takes life a little slower. They value community above busyness.
I'm reminded of how often I "busy" myself with nothing of real importance solely for the need to feel productive.
3. Beauty is more beautiful if you have to search for it a little. Now don't get me wrong, this place I am living is breathtakingly beautiful--somehow one city combines beaches, European architecture, mountains, and desert.
But if I was here alone, with out a precious host family or sweet friends new and old-- it would seem far from beautiful. I'm finding that sometimes beauty is deeper than we can see. Sometimes its late night talks inside on the couch even while there is a world of adventure outside. Because sometimes beauty is found in the little moments rather than the grand adventures.
4. Long bus rides remind me that I am not in control of the world. I'm not even in control of my own little world. This is both incredibly frustrating and refreshingly beautiful.
As I rush around at home passing through traffic and speeding down the highway, my mind doesn't get a moment to rest, to think and to process-- to ask the Lord what he may want from me in that moment.
I want to learn to slow down and listen, to trust Jesus in the little moments. And if the first step is lots of 30 minute bus rides, then that is where I'll start.
5. Siesta is a beautiful thing. Some how resting (get ready, this one is very profound) gives us more energy, leaves us less frustratrated, and slower to burnout.
Everyday after lunch (at about 3pm) everyone heads to their bedrooms to rest-- sometimes a short nap or just some alone time to think.
I rarely take naps at home and if I'm honest its usually because I am too keyed up to fall asleep. But here it is amazing how refreshed I feel for the rest of my day. Maybe I won't always have the luxury of siesta, but I have to believe there is something beneficial and beautiful about taking time to rest and reflect in the midst of the busyness.
When we enter a time of resting and slowing down, it becomes very difficult for our hearts and minds to bury our thoughts and struggles. As we look to find rest we are forced to process the changes, to mourn the hard things, and to give thanks for the blessings. It's not always easy to live in this mindfulness, but I believe there is such a purpose. As I read throughout Psalms I begin to see that rest in a recurring theme that I usually skip past, ironically enough, because I'm rushed.
"On your bed, reflect in your heart and be still." Psalm 4:4
"I will lie down and sleep in peace because you, Oh Lord, make me rest in safety" Psalm 4:8
"I will wake again because the Lord sustains me," Psalm 3:5
Maybe this is something I have missed in my fast paced life-- maybe its something we have all missed in our culture of "now." .