I found peace in the river
I found peace by quiet streams
And I found peace on the mountain
I found peace in fields of green
August makes one year of me uprooting my life again to return to a place I hadn't lived since I was still a teenager -- the closing of one book and the re-opening of another. I'd spent my entire twenties moving from place to place, but this one felt the hardest. Completely adjusting to a life in a small, rural town on the coast of a beautiful country meant that everyday I was given a chance to interact with nature in a way that until Ecuador, I was only able to experience when traveling on a brief vacation. But now, I was leaving the peace that I'd finally found around the new family I'd formed to return to the family that helped build me into the person God made me to become. Whew, torn is an understatement.
And I found peace in the desert
I found peace in raging waves
And I found peace in the valley
I found peace in what you said
Ecuador, due to its geographical location literally on the Equator is what allows it to be, though relatively small, one of the most biodiverse places in the world. While I lived in a more arid part of the country, La Costa, I was able to experience all of its other distinct regions: the Andean mountains (La Sierra), the Amazon rainforest (El Oriente), and the Galápagos Islands, all with a rich history and full of culture and life that welcomed me in unique ways. But though I sense the presence of peace in nature, it was in the voice of God that compelled me to return to my first home. And though I was deeply torn about starting over yet again, it is this same peace that led me back to where my life began.
Many of you have asked me the question: "So, Arielle, how does it feel to be back?" and I still cannot hear that without getting emotional. To some of you, my response has been short, largely because some days I just don't want to melt into emotional pudding. But no, I haven't been "fine", and things haven't been "cool." Even before The Global Pandemic, I was struggling to find where I fit, who my friends are, which spaces to occupy, where to work, how to stay healthy, where to enjoy life, how to seek God, how to not be annoying when speaking about my life in Ecuador, how to keep up with my friends and family in Ecuador without them thinking I forgot about them, how to exist in the present without longing every day to go back, and many many other thoughts.
And I found peace in the chaos
I found peace in suffering
And I found peace in confusion
I found peace inside of me
Through all of those emotions, and then with the pressure and pain that That Pandemic has brought into my life, it is the peace that carried me on that one way flight back to the US that has carried me to write this today. In the middle of confusion, in the chaos of being unemployed and trying to stay busy and productive, in the suffering of deep loss due to illness and death happening all around me, I held on.
I held on to the peace God gave me in the mountains of Cajas National Park, the peace God filled me with on the shore of Olón, the peace God spoke to me while snorkeling off Isla Isabela, the peace God instilled in my heart while on a canoe in Borbón, Esmeraldas and the peace he shined on my soul when my Dad and I trekked through the Amazon Rainforest outside of Tena. God spoke to me those years I was in Ecuador and reminded me that I still had work to do; first on my own self, and then gifts to share with the village that raised me and the village that took me in, mis queridos pajanenses.
Ecuador taught me a new way to live, a new way to breathe.
Oh, and I can finally breathe again
I can finally breathe again
I can finally breathe again
Although the suffering has not ceased, although I'm still struggling in many ways, I've made it this far because of my life and the love I received in that beautiful little country on the Equator in South America. Ah mi querido Ecuador, como te extraño! I haven't found my footing back in NYC just yet. But I'm breathing differently, and I am secure in knowing that the same God that created this beautiful earth I get to inhabit is the same God that will make all things new through Christ Jesus. And it is in Him that I find my strength, my peace, and my joy to keep exploring.
'Cause I found You in the river
I found You in suffering
And I found You on the mountain
You were always around me
[Lyrics in Blue: "Peace (Acoustic)" by Anna Golden]