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This morning on the way from the airport to our accommodations on Corn Island, we passed by a beautiful new home being constructed. It was stucco with beautifully shaped windows.

Around the next corner were dirty and rusted wood and tin shacks.

Last week I had a delicious chicken shish kabob. Today I am sick. Perhaps it was the chicken. More likely it was the delicious fried shrimp eaten more recently, or some predatory bacteria living in it. I’ve had nothing but water today. I can’t imagine enjoying food. I take a travelers antibiotic and wait.

In Soweto, South Africa, I once sat in a tent and worshiped with the Zulu. The floor was dirt. The worship was full of pain and loss, but it was also thick, resonate and noted, more than any worship I’d ever heard before, with love.

In 2008 I went to my office at my church and cleaned out my desk and book shelves. It was a broken moment full of hurt and anxiety and pain. 20 years of success ended in a cardboard box. Only two months later, I carried those boxes into a new office and began a new job in a different church that would come to duplicate and even surpass the success of my earlier work.

I now have a friend who smokes crystal meth. But I was privileged to lead him to accept Christ. He has a family of nine children with one more on the way. His children are good; they are beautiful. I love them. But his drug addiction is ugly, selfish and destructive to the whole family. He is trying. The war between the beautiful and the ugly is not over in his life. Nor for any of us.

Out of a mountain, on top of Corn island in Nicaragua flows an amazing jungle full of tropical flowers and fruits and iguanas. Out of the same mountain flows a polluted stream, full of black water, trash and E coli. Impoverished children play near by.

This was and is and it will be so again and again. I could go on about this as long as the earth has and does and will exist.

The beautiful and the ugly live next door. The sublime and the broken are neighbors. We live in an abused and loved world — full of splendor and horror.

Today I am a bit discouraged. I am sick and far from home. Tomorrow I will be home. I will be happy.

This is life as we know it – replete with wretchedness and laced with beauty.

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