We hiked around the rim of the Masaya volocano outside Granada, Nicaragua today. It was, as volcanos tend to be, awe-inducing. Maybe that explains why for many centuries the indigenous people here occasionally threw their babies in from the top. Overcome by the immensity of it, they decided it was the devil and that it needed to be appeased.
We also took a tour of the city. Jeff and I both loved it, but all around us was evidence of two centuries of war and heinous acts, some of which were supported and funded by my government.
I hate the lie that America is the greatest nation on Earth, ordained by God to bring freedom, efficiency, and fast food to the far corners of the world. But I also hate the lie that indigenous peoples were just so fabulous and peaceful and respectful of life and nature.
People are amazing. They do amazing things. And if you are paying attention, you’ll notice that they are created in the image one amazing God.
But they are also gross. They do gross things. And if you are paying attention, you’ll notice that they have fallen far from who they are intended to be.
You don’t have to observe a foreign land to notice this. Just pay attention at breakfast tomorrow. Or when you trying to get everyone out the door. You, your spouse, your kids, your best friend and your neighbor are all wonderful and all rotten.
Sometimes, I forget this when I travel. I tend to think that because we are doing something so special, spending so much money, and working so hard to get it just right, we will all be different. Then the kids start fighting, Zach starts bugging everyone on the tour bus about the schedule, and Jeff is trailing too far behind the rest of the group. To top it all off, I start thinking that I can’t stand any of them. “They are making me lose my patience, and I am on sabbatical, darn it, where I am supposed to have unlimited patience!”
That’s when I have to remember that my kids (and I) are going to be just as wonderful and rotten in Nicaragua as we are in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That truth made it on to my list of the top ten tips for traveling with children. Because if I don’t remember that truth, that we are all going to be shockingly wonderful and heartbreakingly rotten no matter where we are or what we are doing, I end up making it worse: “Don’t you know how lucky you are to be here? Do you know what you could be doing right now?”
Instead, I need to take a deep breath, remember why we are there, and remember that wherever we go, there we’ll be.
And that’s true whether or not you are traveling.