It started with a robbery in my Costa Rican home. The swimming pool worker called me outside saying, “Have you seen or heard anyone?” “When?” “Ahorita” (now)! A minute later we were walking together down to the garage, hidden from the house by the garden, where he showed me his open backpack and empty wallet. He’d been robbed. By the time I reentered the house, my purse had been opened, my money gone. So that was the beginning of an interesting week, stressful goings-on interspersed with bright moments.
On the 3th day of the week, I fired my gardener after the demise of a few beloved plants, and Fernando, a humble, lively campesino, agreed to be my new gardener. (As an aside, the tropical garden, in its tenacious, jungle-like growth, overreaches my abilities, not to mention the complex relationship between flora and insects, especially ants. Ubiquitous and among the more intriguing are leafcutter ants, which march off with razor-sharp slices of leaves, as if donning sombreros, leaving behind long trails through the grass.)
On the 5th day, in the same breath as the big sigh of contentment for water shimmering in the pool again, after a month long repair, the pool and irrigation pumps broke simultaneously. No big deal except that the pool guy left town; with the end of the rainy season, the irrigation guy is too busy; I’m leaving for Colorado, and vacationers are arriving in swim suits. (Before you blink incredulously, as in Oh please! please hear me out.)
What I’m building up to is how God puts things in our way purposefully and constantly for our discernment. On the 6th day I awakened, looked around, and thought, Life is where you put your focus.
I thought about how I take little thing to heart and—shall I say it?—turn them into big things. I thought about how much more important the blessing of life is than the events. How just about everything is transitory: If you need a change, wait ten minutes. And how the one thing not fleeting is the one thing to live for: to taste eternity while you live—to feel alive in the moment and to trust that when you surrender, you will be supported, knowing that God knows you better than you know yourself.
Fernando, my new gardener, lives right around the corner. When I had asked him to work for me, he lit up. He could keep an eye on his cows across the way while gardening. He could come and go as he pleased. He could literally “brincar” (hop) from his house to mine. “I should have hired you a long time ago,” I told him, feeling equally pleased. “But now is the time!” he said, suggesting that everything is as it should be.
On the 7th day, I told God that I was ready to make good on the promise to live in His light, adding “as I can,” just in case…. But truly something within had settled, as if a sunbeam had broken through, awakening trust.
I was sitting down to breakfast when a large, colorful form moving about in the berry tree caught my eye. It was a toucan, scooping up red berries by the beakful— a sight I had not witnessed before on my property. That’s it! I thought. Life really is what you choose to pay attention to. And it was as though God were right there, winking at me. I tucked the experience into a place where special memories are kept, as an omen of good things to come.