By Kimberly Braun
Heavy traffic rushed past me, whirling buses filled with residents of all ages. Children and adults alike hoped I would buy anything from remote controls for a TV to fresh fruit packaged and perfectly ripe. The whole experience felt like being in a big family thrown into a soup bowl here in Quito, Ecuador.
Not long after, Carolina Park, spilling for block after block, opened up before me. Families ran in every direction, through fountains, kicking soccer balls, flying kites, lounging on the grass, paddle boating, playing in a mini-amusement park, dancing to live music and more. I was told by my hosts, this is the “normal” weekend routine.
Ah, the urban oasis burst with laughter and the hugs. Everyone was playing! I am not sure the last time I saw so many smiles in one place. It is the cycle of play expressing itself in all ages. Reminding the serious world of the main reason we are here, that is, to celebrate life.
Play is an integral part of EVERY cycle of life. Lesson one, learned.
From Ecuador’s large capital we set off for two other gracious settings, an eco-lodge in Mindo and the Avenue of Volcanoes, home to the amazing mother of them all, Cotopaxi. The cycle of beauty unfolded in Mindo, as colors and sounds revealed the various stages of life within the landscape and through the animals and humans around us. It is a perduring quality of life, this thing we call beauty. Although human eyes often veil or even hide this experience in its judgmental stance towards age and ideals, here in Mindo there is no such deception as beauty flooded our senses, indifferent to how old or young the elements and surroundings were in time.
And beauty? Another integral part of EVERY cycle of life. Lesson two, learned and enjoyed.
Imbued now with the ever present quality of play and of beauty, we made our way three days later to the Avenue of Volcanoes. Our trusty van climbed over 15,000 feet as vistas of rolling foothills with volcanoes and peaks jutting up in all directions. With good weather on our side, even the mother Cotopaxi showed her glacier-laden peaks to our beholding eyes. Magnanimity broke loose any boundaries in my heart, taking me as large as the country around me. The wind and cold whipped through me, perhaps with a force needed to dissolve my own constraints and propel me even further into this reality, always present through the cycles so often a part of life. Riding horseback through the open rural land prepared our hearts for time of meditation, allowing the outer and inner experience to unite in joy.
With all limits dissolved, magnanimity shouts its lesson. Every moment is magnanimous, and we are as well if we show up. Lesson three, taken to heart.
The cycles of life and families of all ages united in play, nature of all species united in beauty, volcanoes of all history united in magnanimity—they all grabbed hold of me, inspiring their very essence to rise up within. Birth, life, growth and death continue in Ecuador with perduring gentleness, alluring to the soul and satisfying to the senses.’ Aaaaaaaah,’ is the one response to these timeless lessons coming again and again.
Kimberly Braun, M.A., CSP, Minister is a Catalyst, Activator and Guide. Her life’s devotion is to discover the mystic within us all. Leading meditation and retreats after 10 and a half years as a Carmelite Monastic Nun, she is also the creator of VIBRANCE! Natural Living Festival, an event devoted to building and celebrating the local holistic community. www.kimberlybraun.com, www.vibrancesrq.com.