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Swimming with Swans

24 hours prior to this admittedly ridiculous photo we were in quite a different place…


More than 100 miles away, high in the mountains in a steep valley that a regional indigenous group calls home. A community where spotty electricity and clean drinking water have only recently arrived. A place where job opportunities remain scarce and access to higher education remains little more than a dream.

Yet, less than one day later, there I was…floating on a swan….in a pool…with the ocean waves thundering behind me….not to mention fancy food & drinks available at my beck and call.

>>Hold the judgement!  In my defense I had no idea that our hotel would be this kind of classy, as it was less than $100 a night including breakfast (We’ve paid way more than that to stay in dumpy interstate hotels in North Dakota…in the winter!) My husband handled the lodging logistics and was likely just trying to make up for the memorable night we spent in a budget hostel. I had told him that in the future we should plan to stay in places that included sheets with the room…Either way, the “Swan” hotel ended up being the nicest place we stayed BY FAR during our 9 week experience in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. <<

At any rate, here we found ourselves in these gourmet conditions, having one final adventure before transitioning back into a our “normal” life.

What I wasn’t prepared for was feeling called out on the reality of my privilege so quickly…coming face to face with the full depth of disparity that exists in our world.


While it many not be a new lesson for us to learn, it still hit me like a ton of bricks.  And the questions were unrelenting:

Why are there so many injustices in our world?

Why are we so blessed and so privileged just because of where we were born, the families and location we were born into?

And most, importantly, what is our responsibility to others – what are we supposed to do with this knowledge and even power?

I don’t know about you, but for me, asking these questions can be draining and depressing. And in the end, it often feels like there are only two ways to go: Radically sell all our belongings, move in with and serve others less fortunate? Or, cleanly file away the competing memories as a unique experience, and then return home and fill our lives with other things.

But, neither of these responses feel right anymore.

Is there a third option?

Can we live here in the US with all our blessings and privileges – yet not take them for granted and use them for good? Can we  choose to care deeply and authentically for those across the world even when we don’t live among them and they aren’t visibly in front of us anymore?

Currently, we are embracing this season of questioning and mental tension and wondering if this is exactly where God wants us, even calls us to be.

Present. Aware. Engaged. Challenged. Seeking. Willing.

Wondering –  if maybe the whole of our existence is to daily live out our answer to these questions. Not living life complacently, but seeking every opportunity to live out God’s call to love in an unjust world – showing love by what we prioritize, how we live, who we spend our time with, what we pray for and even how we spend our money?

Serving and loving in our neighborhoods, in our country and abroad – wherever he has positioned us.

How about it? Have you had your own “swan moment”?

There are so many of you doing amazingly generous and radical things quietly and consistently…care to share? We would love to hear from you.  Have any of you had similar experiences abroad?  Did you come back wanting to give, serve, and love more but found it hard to do so in our current culture?

How are you living in the tension?

We are still very much figuring out what this looks like for us but stay tuned for our next post where we’ll share 5 simple ideas to pursue being present, aware, engaged, challenged, seeking, and willing to live in the tension.

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