Yet Another Storm — in Quito, Ecuador

The sky is blue, or the rain
falls with its spills of pearl.

“Spring,” from Owls and Other Fantasies, Mary Oliver

Well it’s been spilling pearls here in Quito lately.





upon pearly


We are officially in rainy season. I see it outside; I feel it in my heart. Sometimes it feels like each Zoomy-Gloomy class is a fat drop of rain. This relentless rain pelts us, and instead of giving us life and growth and blooms, we’re just cold, soaked, and exhausted.

And while most everything here in the city is open for the masked human, school campuses remain closed. While restaurants are packed with unmasked humans eating food, school campuses remain closed. While grocery stores and malls and markets and buses are crammed with people, school campuses remain closed. Ecuador, I do not understand.

But while I sit here complaining about what a drag Zoomy Gloomies are, I have to remember what a privilege it is that my kids have devices, internet, and a connection — albeit through a screen — to classmates and teachers.

So many kids aren’t having any school whatsoever right now. So I think about all that rain and realize that it’s better than scorched and burning earth.

I am trying to see those raindrops as beautiful pearls and be grateful. But I’m human. And I’m cold, soaked, and exhausted. As I write this, yet another storm is rolling in. The thunder just cracked so loudly that a couple of car alarms went off. Pearls — they’re comin’.

All this talk of pearls — I should mention that in my household, “Pearl” has a very different meaning from the beautiful gem used for earrings and necklaces and rings. A long, long time ago, when kids were not even a thought, Steve and I used to entertain ourselves during church services by making little drawings of animal combinations on the bulletins. For example: a “feagle” was a fox with an eagle head and wings, a “duake,” a snake with a duck head, etc. One of our all-time favorites, both in name and illustration, was our beloved “Pearl.” Steve drew the most hilarious depiction of a pig and squirrel that I remember physically covering my mouth with my hands, stifling the laughs, feeling like my insides were going to explode from the pressure. All this during church.

So of course I start thinking about that poem excerpt, picturing our Pearls spilling from the sky. And though the sky is DARK right now, the thought of hundreds of pig-squirrels dropping from the sky brightens my day.

This. This is why I married Steve. We laugh SO HARD together, sometimes at the most inappropriate times. But isn’t that part of the fun? Tell me you haven’t gotten the case of the giggles during church, or during class, or during a meeting. You feel that tightening of your stomach and lungs; your face contorts; perhaps there are tears; and this volcanic laughter-air does everything in its power to escape out of your mouth and nose.

It’s the best.

Maybe it’s a reason I loved teaching so much. Those crazy students would make me laugh so hard. And laughing is energizing! And fun!

One time during Wellness Club, a club I sponsored, I decided to talk about this very concept of laughter being energizing (if you haven’t ever worked with teenagers, I’ll tell you: there’s a lot of sleepiness happening at school). I thought to my 30-something self: I know! I’ll search around the internet and find some super hilarious videos to show them. We’ll all laugh together, AND IT WILL BE AWESOME!

I had such good motives. And such confidence!

So they all filed into my room, collapsed into desks, and I started what was sure to be a total laugh-fest. I started with the hilarious Steve Carell blooper reel from Anchorman. I started playing it, giggling in anticipation. But soon enough, I side-eyed my students to see them practically melting off their desks in boredom. (Think of those Salvador Dali melting clocks — those were my students drooping and dripping off their desks and onto the multi-colored classroom carpet.)

It was so bad that I casually grape-vined over to my computer with a squinty smile and pressed pause. Heads turned expectantly toward me. It was awkward, so I — as I do — filled the silence by talking. Soon enough, we were all laughing at how NOT funny the video was to everyone except me and how clearly out of touch I was with teenage humor.

Even when the rain is pouring, we can choose to view the raindrops as pearls.

Or Pearls.

So maybe this post is a pep-talk to myself during this Zoomy-Gloomy cloudy rainy time. I’ll take it. But I’ll say this to the nine of you reading this: find the humor in this life. Spend time with people who make you laugh. Start there. And maybe your own artist’s rendering of Pearl might help.

And if you happen to be one of my former students reading this, thank you for the laughs.

In all her glory.
More church shenanigans. You know those “connect cards” that churches always have? Yeah.
“I give Journey Church permission to print My Story.”

7 thoughts on “Yet Another Storm — in Quito, Ecuador

  1. marisaisabel March 18, 2021 / 11:53 pm

    Oh my goodness. I can so imagine you and Slap giggling during church over Pearl.
    I’m really surprised that so much is open in Ecuador, but not schools! LA has been super restrictive, but just started opening up schools this month. It’s been COVID whiplash.
    Grateful for your thoughts!!


  2. Lisa March 19, 2021 / 7:14 am

    Love this! Your metaphor totally resonates with me. I have learned to appreciate the rainy days in life as they make the sunny days so much brighter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jen Knapp March 21, 2021 / 2:57 pm

      I do love that about life — the ups and downs, the sun and rain, the joy and despair — experiencing the extremes gives us a perspective to appreciate life more. And that’s what it’s all about. Hope you’re doing well, Lisa! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. nicholealee05 March 19, 2021 / 11:55 am

    Love this. It reminded me of the book I read “There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather.” While the words sunk deep, there’s still a temptation to think there might be. Also, a great reminder of gratitude. Steve’s Pearl is funny and I can just imagine you sitting there in church trying to hold in your laughter. Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jen Knapp March 23, 2021 / 1:38 pm

      That book has been on my to-read list for awhile, and I need to get my grimy little hands on it! Thanks for the reminder. Love ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hagerman's March 27, 2021 / 7:31 am

    I remember back in middle school, every Sunday we would make the most awesome comments on church offering envelopes and deposit them in the tithe plate when it passed. We always assumed it would make someone laugh. Now as an adult I realize I have made a grave error in putting away such childish acts and I must return to the glorious days of tom-foolery. I dare say I feel challenged to go above and beyond with the addition of illustrations.

    Thanks for inspiration!

    PS. I miss Steve’s ugly oranges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jen Knapp March 27, 2021 / 1:25 pm

      Layne!!! This comment made me burst out laughing. Honestly at first I thought you were going to shame our doodling during church, lol. Love it. We’ll be in Michigan in July.

      Liked by 1 person

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