El albergue

El albergue

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just what the doctor ordered

You know that feeling you get when you step back from the normal bustle of your daily life and take a moment to breath in the clean fresh air of a forest or park? As your eyes rest on the abundance of green and your ears exult in the soft rustling of the breeze that tickles the leaves, fronds, flowers, and branches around you, you feel your chest expanding, your lungs filling, your heart slowing to the steady cadence of quiet and calm. Isn’t that a lovely feeling that runs down to your fingers and up to the top of your head? Isn’t it wonderful to feel all things frenetic and worrisome drip away from you and melt into the ground beneath your feet?

Oh how I love it. I love it, I love it! Did I tell you I love it? I love this city and the life I live here, but oh how I love getting away from the people and noise and letting myself relax in the woods. And it’s even better – oh so much better – when you have a close friend by your side, pounding out the eight or nine miles together that you need to do in the advancing preparation for that upcoming half-marathon. Then the peace is made perfect by all that release of energy and thought, and as your feet hit in the earth in steady rhythm, you feel as though you are both a pair or woodland creatures coming back to your natural place, the place where you feel quiet, at home.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The sweetest thing

This past Thursday and Friday, I went to the “farm” with the 1st and 2nd graders from our school. Over those two days, the four of us teachers relaxed, followed the kids around their various activities, and ate tons of delicious food, and the kids went crazy – they got to go see all the farm animals, make fun anis cookies, learn how to create simple salt dough magnets, scent and shape soap into hanging balls for the shower, have a giant sleepover and dance party, watch paper transformed into artistry by special water and oil paint patterns, make personalized folders, and generally have a blast despite the nearly non-stop rain.

Basically, it was a lot of fun. There was one moment though that will always stick out in my memory…

One of the 1st grade boys had been sick all week, but he didn’t want to miss out on all the fantastic fun, so he valiantly made the effort to come to the farm with all of his classmates. For the first part of the day, he held up pretty well, but by the afternoon he was looking exhausted. He refused to let the teacher call his mom though, because he didn’t want to leave. Finally, right before dinner, his monitor brought him to us teachers by the hand – he had given up all resistance and cried that he wanted to go home. The poor thing could hardly keep his eyes open and kept repeating that the monitors were mean because they wouldn’t let him sleep. And he had that deep throaty cough that you know means no good. It was pretty pitiful.

We laid him down on the couch in the teachers’ lounge and only just barely got some ibuprofen (the Spanish cure for just about everything it seems) into him before he conked out, his forehead all hot and feverish and his breathing heavy and labored.

A while later, we were hanging out in the lounge with our poor little sickling fast asleep, still waiting for his parents to show up in a blaze of headlights against the black of the night, when the director started to say that she hoped they hadn’t got lost in the dark along the nearly deserted dirt road leading out to the farm. She said something along the lines of, “We might end up having to go out and rescue them if they get stuck in the mud,” when all of a sudden we heard a tiny voice sleepily mumble out, “I brought my flashlight.”

Even in his half asleep fuzzy state of mind, our sad little patient was anxious to help in any way he could. I think my heart grew two sizes right there.

Friday, March 1, 2013


You’re up on top of the world, 52 floors above the glittering city spread beneath you. The cold wind form outside comes blowing through the round glass-less windows of this maintenance-only floor (you may not be maintenance, but your friend’s got connections). You move to a window and lean your head out, your gloved hands resting on the frozen metal in front of your chest.

The velvety black of the night provides the perfect backdrop to the brilliancy of the lights of the city – it’s as though millions of colorful sparks have been showered down on the Earth and flowed together into a continually changing lake of fire. Some of the sparks dance and twinkle, insistently claiming your attention by prancing about. Others stay still, only winking occasionally as though to relieve their real desire for spasmodic movement. Still others simply allow themselves to be absorbed into the shining mass of their neighbors.

The gauziest hint of a veil draws itself over the lights below – it has started to snow. The flakes drift about outside, going more sideways and crooked than down as they float on the currents of wind. Here they come through the windows, gently coming to rest on your coat, on your gloves, on your face. They seem soft and quiet. They seem to kiss you as they alight, bringing blessings of hope.

You were relaxed before after a long day out and about, but now you feel tranquil, at peace, each sparkle of life warming your heart, and each flutter of white caressing your soul.