I posted this on Instagram, but here it is with a little added insight at the end for the blog too…

Last week this girl encircled me with this beautiful hand-made necklace of flowers in a little Peruvian village in the tippy-top of the mountains.

The air was thin (13,000 feet elevation).

We had been led (huffing and puffing) up the mountain by some flautists and a drummer, welcoming us in.

(A member of their village had received a life-changing surgery to restore her vision from CharityVision, the organization we were traveling with, so they were showering us all with their deep-felt gratitude).

It was quite an honor for us to be included in this sacred meeting.

They dressed us in their traditional hand-woven Peruvian clothing with so much welcoming love.

They showed us their traditional ceremony of offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) before the planting season.

They showed us how they plant their crops.

I got to help plant the potatoes:)

And how they weave their clothing.

They fed us guinea pig, a traditional Peruvian dish.

And as they swept us into a fragment their life, I wondered how it would feel to be there at night: stars surely gleaming so radiantly.

I imagined how quiet it must be in the day-to-day.

The simplicity of no car to jump in to run errands, no grocery store to grab something you forgot for dinner, no running from sports practice to dance to a board meeting. No social media or malls around the corner.

Of course, I’m grateful for all these things, but as I put myself in the shoes of the man who was showing us how to dig through the strong roots of that rocky ground, I imagined hand-plowing those steep-sloping mountain fields. Working with your hands as your mind must give more space to just “ponder.”

I pondered about how life there must be enriched by the power of “beholding.”

Which reminded me of something Richard Rohr said:

Once we decide to behold, we are available for awe and wonder, to be present to what is, without the filter of our preferences or the false ledger of judging things as important or not important…beholding happens when we stop trying to “hold” and allow ourselves to ‘be held’ by the other.

And right there, perched on that mountain, I pledged once again to slow down enough to “behold” more often like my new Peruvian friends.

To slow down to “see” more clearly and to “be held” by the One who can see all the valleys and plateaus that stretch out beyond.

We had a training meeting at church recently where we talked about, Helaman 10:1-2 and how the word “ponder” is used twice.

How often are we still?

I think the connection with God comes when we make more room in our hearts and minds for Jesus.

For the nudges that come along the way.

Sometimes the way I live my life doesn’t create opportunities to “hear Him” as much as I’d like to.

So I’m working on it.

Working on the pondering.

Working on being in my scriptures more.

Working on being still without my laptop or my phone open….driving as I pray. Folding laundry without having to listen to a podcast (even a good one!).

We have to create the pockets for which we can hold and learn from all the experiences and learning and loving that come our way.

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  1. What an amazing experience! A sweet lesson learned in a place you will never forget. I really related to your post. I’ve been trying to focus on pondering and mindfulness because I always find my mind racing ahead to the thing I need to do next instead of being present in the moment I’m in. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Do you eat pork?

      I’ve eaten it too when visiting friends in the Peace Corps. When people with so little spend all day making a dish for you, you eat it. The world is big!

  2. I wonder how those people feel, having people like you and your family come in to “help” them do the very things they do every day and have been doing for thousands of years. What help could you possibly give them? I think it’s sad that in order to get life saving surgery for someone, their entire village has to entertain families there to “help” them. I also think that this is a great way to make a vacation into a tax write off for charitable purposes.

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