What the Jungle Taught Me: Adventures at a Costa Rica Monastery, Part IV

There are no eyelash curlers in the remote jungle of western Costa Rica.

Dense, green mountains strip away all vanity; nature becomes the great equalizer.

“Forest fashion” is whatever is clean, or at the very least, that which doesn’t smell too terrible.

Mismatched outfits, floppy hats, and old lady walking sticks are in vogue, or at least, I hoped they were.

Pink shirt, orange shorts, black hat, and walking stick!
Pink shirt, orange shorts, black hat, and walking stick! Jungle fashion, at its best.

Besides wearing no makeup and throwing my hair into a quick bun each day, what I loved most about our recent nine days at Madhuvan Monastery was the sheer physicality and spirituality of it. Our time was boiled down to surviving, serving, and connecting.

We’d all be well served to experience the barest daily essentials of what it means to live, without the minutia of “first world problems.”  There’s enormous power in the simplicity of seeing life and nature and God and one another for exactly who we are. No clutter, no pretense, and no baggage. Just connection.

And, because I am the first to grip tightly to the past, patterns, and pretense, this exactly the lesson I needed in order to enter into 2015 as happier person.

Here’s what I learned in the jungle:

  1. It’s OK to cry. It’s even better to laugh.
  2. Being dirty and smelling bad is virtuous; it helps us give us thanks for clean water and a strip of soap.
  3. Birds, horses, and bugs teach us about the rhythms of life: fly, trot, crawl. Repeat.
  4. The best days of life are the ones in which we actually see the sun rise and the sun set.
  5. Community, though difficult, is how we grow. When we balance solitude with being together, we heal our brokenness.
  6. God is G-o-d, with a capital “G”: accessible and ready to teach us what we so badly need to learn. We only have to slow down, show up, stop, and look up.
Yes, I'm wearing a pink shirt and red-orange bright shorts.
Front view! I’m only missing my walking stick.

Your turn:  what 2014 lessons are you bringing with you into 2015? Share in the comments section.

Miss the recent “Adventures at a Costa Rica Monastery” posts? Check them out here:

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