Surprising Grace

Sharon and I spend our winters in a small Mexican town along the Pacific ocean. The town is an amalgam of contrasts. Snow birds from Canada, America and Europe live along the ocean in well appointed small condos or RV parks. Sunbathing and pickle ball are two popular diversions and the only thing you hear after 10pm are the waves. We live in a Mexican neighborhood a ten minute walk from the beach. Here the roads are of dirt, the dwellings are simple, and the activity level more intense. Here life is lived mostly outside in small courtyards sharing meals or just sitting around with family members of several generations. Workers leave early and return late dust covered and tired. Dogs, chickens, cats and roosters roam freely and noisily inspire each other to voice their concerns. Personal music selections are aired at high decibel levels for all to hear, and life’s transitions are celebrated well into the early morning hours, often with brass bands.

When we arrived here seven years ago the flow of life had a pace to it that shrugged off delays and resisted change. Our feeling was that this mode of living was not fundamentally different than it had been for centuries. For our American minds cultured to plan, act, and achieve, the lack of planning, acting and achieving was stupefying. Sharon and I even discussed all of the infrastructure, services and domestic living areas that we would fix, improve or solve.

Slowly, as time passed, and we settled into the daily rhythms here our initiatives for change grew less urgent, then not at all urgent, and finally, best handled by some future generation. Time became more fluid with one event giving rise to the next from within its own agenda. After a period of resistance even basic living expectations like electric power, water, internet and reliable transportation became arbitrary considerations, more of a welcome manifestation than a guarantee. This letting go did not happen quickly or easily or willingly, but over time the attachment to a particular outcome or individual expression, like the time here itself, also became more fluid.

As our mindful projections receded life automatically became more about just being here with what is. Almost every day elicited moments where a feeling out of time seemed to coincide with the flow of ordinary perception. Unexpectedly this was most acute not in those areas of greatest natural beauty; the fiery sunsets, the majestic flowing ocean, or the flower scented wildness of the jungle, but in those most mundane of occurrences, the open smiles of a construction crew, paper trash caught in dust covered weeds, or a rooster welcoming the morning. In those moments a surprising grace surfaces unplanned and unpracticed, as a gift. A merger of timeless and time beyond interpretation, just pure connection.

Change is coming quickly to our little town as more wealth and tourists arrive. Local people are being priced out of their homes and land and are moving to less expensive inland villages. The children now live with cell phones and motorbikes, and welcome the new opportunities and faster pace. Infrastructure projects are being initiated and buildings can now be four floors high instead of just two. Hi-rise condominiums are planned along the ocean and the hum of progress is in the air. Services are more reliable and expectedly so.

We return home to Iowa each spring and within days our lists begin. Tax time is just around the corner and new projects are calling. Our days fill and refill with doing and viewing as the mind reasserts its comfort zones. We don’t resist, we go with the flow knowing that within that flow, out of sight and out of mind is a sacredness waiting to surprise.

© Fax Gilbert Programs L.L.C.

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