L.O.V.E. Living a Life Of Vibrant Energy

Tanya M Cooper: Teacher Author Speaker LifeCoach

The Revolutionary's Daughter - An Excerpt

            There was an uneasiness present at the table, but somehow I knew that it was something other than my arrival that was at the heart of it.  It was a coldness that seemed to be hidden in the stark blue walls, but obvious in the bursting faces of those strange characters trapped in the paintings. The religious, aristocratic, elitist overtones, exemplified by the obesity, arrogance of expression and boastful clothes, seemed to be reverberating a message. It was as if those fat caricatures were themselves on the verge of purging the very secrets that stuffed them.

As I looked about the room, and saw the faces that were still unfamiliar to me, I felt strangely intimidated.  I knew that it was likely to take some time before I could gain their confidence. I had never considered myself good with children so becoming a nanny was an ironic turn of events.  I had always fared better delving into the psyches of adults, rather than the imagination of children. Curiously, I came to learn that it was often the misguided or distorted survival techniques created by children that led to the psychosis in adults.  Somewhere along the way, as imagination gives way to practicality and we are told to mature, our senses are killed and we begin to lose hope for the very world we imagined we could create for ourselves. This was the first type of death I had experienced.  It's an emotional death – murder if you will, that happens to any child as they meet the harsh cruelty of living in a fallen world.  I had been murdered many times over. 

 I doubted if any one of the adults or children seated at that table ever noticed the fat grotesque characters staring at them from  behind.  I suspected, like so many things in life, they had grown accustomed to their surroundings.  So much so, that they could not possibly feel the foreboding sensation that crawled up inside of me and took hold of me in that first evening.  Or perhaps, it had taken hold of them too and they neither felt it or acknowledged it anymore.  No, they simply lived it routinely every day of their lives in a country always on the brink of civil unrest and economic strife.  What was it like to live with the daily threat of not only terrorism, but military raids and political corruption?  It was a world and a feeling I was only beginning to understand.

“So, how long are you going to be here?”  Daniela, the young cat-like girl asked, but it was not her words, but her tone that bared those vicious claws.  This is the second type of murder – to be slowly tortured to death by another’s thoughts! 

“Really Daniela?  Faith will be here as long as she pleases.  You'll have to excuse my daughter, Faith.”  La Señora, whose intention had been to make me feel welcome, simply smiled at that moment and motioned me to take a seat at the table.  She remained standing.  "I'll introduce you to my children.”  It seemed unfathomable to think that such a young looking woman had been responsible for such a large family, but I knew it was quite typical of Colombian families to be large.   As the introductions began, it became clear that not all of the family members were present. 

At this first dinner with the Castano family, I had to be satisfied with what little I had learned so far and believe that in time I would learn what God had intended me to know and understand from this experience.  So, for that evening, I simply made an effort, even in my exhaustion, to smile at least infrequently and to pretend that I was following some of the conversation.   When I could fight my fatigue no longer, La Señora, who had recognised my discomfort, suggested that we all retire early and start fresh tomorrow.   Ana escorted me to my room, said goodnight and disappeared down the hallway.

As I entered my room, I didn't bother to turn on the lights.  The outer lights of the yard  shone through the transparent curtain draping my window, giving me enough light to find my way.  As the gentle wind shifted the fruit trees just outside my window, their shadows danced slowly about my room, making me feel as if I was amidst the forest itself.  I walked to the balcony and took one more glance out over the courtyard, listening to the soft motion of those beautiful flowered trees that now appeared like skeletons in the wind.  And the barren tree in particular that possessed no leaves or blossoms, captured my curiosity. What strange disease, I wondered, had struck this tree and caused its demise? That moment of silence, smelling the sweet air, and feeling the cool wind of this new country on my face, was exhilarating for me. 

I slid my sweater off of my shoulders, and pulled my shirt over my head.  I removed the clip from my hair and finally allowed my hair to fall down my back.  I gently massaged my scalp with the tips of my fingers, soothing my aching head.  As I stood there, in my bra and panties, I closed my eyes, and allowed the cool air to flow over my entire body.  I was tired but my mind was racing. Just for a moment, however, in the shadows of the trees, standing on the balcony in the damp air, I felt a feeling all at once of yearning wash over me.  I hadn't felt as alive and strangely excited since those long summer nights so long ago when I was a teenager discovering new found freedom.  Oh, was this what coming to another country did for you?  Did it make you alive again, make you feel things that had become so mundane and such a part of every day life, that you had forgotten their existence?  If yes, then I was glad I had come.  And at that moment, for the first time since my arrival, I felt I was in the right place at the right time.  What had La Senora said of her own son Desean earlier that night?  Never in the right place?  I too had been there in my life, but not tonight.  Tonight, everything felt different.

What I did not know was that in that place and moment, deep amidst those shadows, it was not only God who was keeping vigil over me.  In fact, at that moment, I did not fully comprehend who or what was awaiting me.  I only knew what I felt and that restless voice deep within me, had for a brief moment, stopped calling.  It had quieted.  But in that silence, everything, including my own purpose remained a mystery to me.  I couldn't have known that out beyond that courtyard, deep within the heart of the Andes mountains of Colombia that I would someday have to face the fears I had been carrying all of my life.  Nor did I know it would be my own faith that would help me to face them and the grace of God that would ultimately deliver me.