For the majority of this week, I have felt like a bubble waiting to burst. It all started Monday when we left A Casa do Jardim. The children we worked with, two in particular, pulled at my heartstrings and have stuck with me ever since. Their names were Maria and Kemilly.
They were five and eight years old but have gone through things that some may never experience in their lifetime. Yet, they radiated positivity and love. I have found myself constantly thinking about these two girls and continually praying for their well-being. Although I am grateful for the opportunity to meet and impact these girls, I have found myself on the verge of tears when telling their story or sharing anything about my experience and have cried as I think about the hardships they face.
I’ve been searching for a release from this heaviness, something to help me see the good in the situation instead of feeling heartache. I found that release yesterday while engaging my senses in the midst of the Atlantic Rainforest. Sight came into play first. While still on the bus, I began to feel the stress melt away as soon as I saw bodies of water surround the highway. Having grown up right on Lake Ontario’s coast, the water is like a second home to me. Summers have always been spent relaxing by the water as much as possible. As a result, the sight and sound of water have always been soothing. As we continued our bus journey to the Atlantic Rainforest, the luscious green flora around me gave me a calm that only nature can provide.
Before stepping off the bus, we were instructed to be silent and just listen. The second we stepped off the bus sounds of the rainforest filled my ears. Although we didn’t experience a rainstorm (slightly disappointing), the sounds of crickets and birds filled the air. As we journeyed further into the dense forest, the faint sound of waves could be heard. As my excitement built at the chance of being near water, the sounds grew louder. As I peered through the trees, the water came into view, and my calmness reached its peak. All worries and stress completely disappeared as soon as I heard the water hitting the shore. To me, that is the sound of complete and utter calm. There is no other sound I would rather hear when upset.
Although we didn’t get to see a rainstorm, the moisture in the air could be felt on our skin. As we continued to walk, the moisture began to build, making any exposed skin soft to the touch. Some students reached out to touch some of the plants, curious about their texture and thickness. Vines hung everywhere, constantly reminding me of Tarzan. I became curious and tugged on one to test its strength. It fell from the tree it was hanging from, appearing very weak. Unfortunately, I did not swing from any vines.
The smell of the rainforest gave a calm all its own. I have never been in an environment where the smell can bring serenity. As we stood looking out over the water, a breeze brought in a smell that can only be associated with a body of water surrounded by a rainforest. There was a freshness to the scent that put my mind at ease. Not only did the breeze feel nice, but the scent that came along with it made the whole scene surreal.
Although I did not personally try to taste anything, I do know that one of our fearless leaders (I’ll let you guess who) dipped a finger in the body of water and tasted the water. The only response afterward was “hm, freshwater.”
After a week of conflicting emotions, the Atlantic Rainforest was the perfect place for my escape. The beauty within gave a calmness I have lacked all week, and I am very grateful for the peace and reflection our time there gave. The use of all five senses cleared my mind and gave me a new perspective on my experiences thus far on the trip. I now see the beauty in the heaviness in my heart. I see how my time with Kemilly and Maria on Monday has changed not only their lives but mine as well.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -Albert Einstein
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” -Vincent Van Gogh