I finally took a well-needed vacation before I lost my last quarter-inch of sanity. Life felt like it was literally draining out of me via stress, sickness, and exhaustion.
My very dear friend Marguerite opened her lovely home in Costa Rica to me and hung out with me at Asclepios Spa Retreat for a few days. I truly learned the meaning of “pura vida,” a phrase that rolls off the tongues of Costa Ricans in greeting or encouragement.
A word-for-word translation of “pura vida” is “pure life,” but the concept encompasses far more. The best rendition might be “fullness of life,” or “This is living!” And live I did, savoring the tranquility and nature’s most spectacular views.
Costa Rica is well known for its eco-tourism. It’s the fifth greenest country, according to the Environmental Performance Index, and the top-ranking country for well-being, life expectancy, and ecological footprint, as rated by the Happy Planet Index (HPI). But my visit was a God-ordained time in which to savor the more laid-back aspects of Costa Rica’s many charms.
So, at the spa retreat, I was privileged to enjoy a relaxing Asclepios massage, yoga classes, and a session in a hammam or Turkish bath. Never thought I could sweat that much!
The Costa Rican restaurants offered scrumptious meals! Trust me, my increased waistline is the evidence. No more patacones!
Asclepios Spa Retreat is named after the Greek god of health, but I knew that the true God of “pura vida,” of fullness of life, had orchestrated this opportunity for me to de-stress and decompress. He revealed at least three things to me regarding “pura vida.”
It’s part of our inheritance as children of God. Jesus made plain His intention for us to enjoy abundant life. Obviously, His focus was on spiritual life, but physical life is also meant to be lived to the fullest. We forfeit our endowment as children of the promise of God when we accept less than “pura vida.”
We lose out when we trade in the simpler pleasures of life for busyness and distraction. Every morning, I am in a mad rush to get out of the house in order to enter the mad rush of traffic in order to begin the mad rush of work in order to… You get the picture. I might remember to shoot an admiring glance at the scenery as I drive to work or walk around the office building, but that’s big “might” if a million thoughts are competing for my attention.
However, the “high” I got from seeing, hearing, and smelling nature first-hand is priceless. It’s a worship experience in itself. Enjoying such God-breathed beauty is, indeed, “pura vida.”
We need to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with God and ourselves. During the yoga classes at the spa retreat, our Costa Rican yogi would remind us to keep our face (or arms or legs) “soft.” I think she really meant “relaxed”! Some yoga movements can’t be perfected if we are tense or uptight. It’s a lesson I have to relearn and reapply daily.
The more “soft” and open I am, the more aware I am of my relationship with God and of my own well-being (or lack thereof!) . This is one time that being a “softie” really pays off! :-)
The expression “pura vida” is sometimes spoken as an expression of thanks. I’m truly grateful for the break that God provided through this vacation in Costa Rica.
Had you heard of the concept of “pura vida” before? What are you doing to incorporate “pura vida” in your life?