Flow with Change
I was sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor of a dusty building, its cement walls sprayed by automatic gunfire, the windows blown out and now replaced by chain-link fencing in a small town called Verapas in El Salvador.
What sounded like fresh gunfire startled me awake around midnight.
“I should have gone back to the hotel,” I chided myself. Instead, I had taken a dare, the worst kind, by some church volunteers who had been staying in sweaty, non-shower conditions in town all week as they built Habitat housing, which I had been filming.
“Just stay one night, we triple-dog-dare you,” a few new friends challenged me while we ate handmade arepas cooked over an open fire for dinner. Now I couldn’t back down.
There were only three video production rules I had when I worked for Habitat: 1) There could be no livestock in my sleeping quarters, 2) I needed a shower every day, and 3) three meals provided each day.
Clearly, rule two was about to be broken in the name of my personal pride and adventure.
The town square buildings were pockmarked with bullet holes from El Salvadorian wars of years past and soldiers were still a presence in the town.
I was most uncomfortable to discover later that evening that we were sleeping in the same hollowed-out building as a group of soldiers, with only a thin curtain to separate them from the team of volunteers.
“Why do I let myself get into these fixes?” I thought, as I now nervously nudged one of the volunteers awake with warnings of possible gunfire in the streets. We woke one another up and stood as a small group on the edges of the chain-link windows, peering out into the dark night of the small town square.
After a few uncomfortable moments someone whispered, “Listen, do you hear that…is that singing?”
And then – one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen in my life.
In my work week, I had forgotten that Easter was the next day. Now, in pitch darkness, save for some torches, the townspeople walked in slow processional, under a brilliant canopy of stars. Men carried Roman candle fireworks, which sound a lot like gunfire, shooting fountains of colored flames into the night sky.
Everyone was singing gentle hymns in Spanish to usher in Easter, while a few men accompanied with large guitars. Four other men carried a pallet on their shoulders with a large handmade representation of Jesus rising from the grave, created out of cardboard and covered in colorful foil.
“Let’s join them,” someone suggested. Still wrapped in sheets, we walked into the cool night following behind this holy gathering with its lilting music bathing the humble streets, swept into sheer beauty.
There are days, like today, that I remember that midnight walk, so stunning that I can hardly believe I actually lived it. It was the surprise reward of a long, hot week and the willingness to push my comfort zone. (I’m sure the soldiers were there for protection, or Habitat wouldn’t have let them near us).
Adventures have dusty, hot, uncomfortable days, even scary moments. That’s part of the deal. And these moments can also lead to memories so beautiful it makes your heart ache – the kind you never want to forget.
If you are struggling today in life’s Adventure: Stay the course, Keep in community, Enjoy the discovery.