August 26, 2013 Panajachel, Guatemala
“I will believe the truth about myself
no matter how beautiful it is:
I believe in my power to
transform indifference into love.
I believe I have an amazing gift
to keep hope alive in the face of despair…
I believe I have the strength of will
to be peace in a world of violence.
I believe in my miraculous capacity
for unconditional love.
I will believe the truth about myself
no matter how beautiful it is.”
– Compline Prayer for the Noon Hour by Macrine Wiederkehr
On my way up the hill to the mercado central, I stop by a small dirt floor room surrounded by tin walls with a sign that says “Se venden tortillas.” Maria and her daughter, Rosario, greet me with smiles. “Buenas tardes,” Maria says to me as she pounds away more and more tortillas to be baked on the make-shift griddle behind her. The purple threading on her guipil glistens as the sun peaks through the cracks in the tin that lines her hut. Wishing me well, she turns to me and says, “Qué te vayas bien, Raquel. I make my leave and wave to her as I continue towards the market, realizing that for many in the barrio Maria and Rosario provide their daily bread (su pan de cada día). The strength and gentleness that these two women show, as they daily mold and pound out hundreds of tortillas, gives me a glimpse of God’s delight in giving us our daily bread so that we make work for all to be fed…
On my way back from the market I stop by a taquería. The cook and waitress grin as I exclaim “¡Qué ricos!” to them between bites of my tacos al pastor. The waitress brings me the bill and asks me what I am doing here in Guatemala.
“Well, it is a little complicated, but, I recently graduated from seminary to be a pastor and for a year I’ll be traveling to learn how indigenous communities utilize preaching and storytelling.”
She grins and introduces herself to me, “Soy Christina.” She tells me that she’s worked at the taquería for two months since she graduated from high school, and that she dreams of going to the university in Sololá.
I ask her what she wants to study. Her eyes light up as she answers.
“Psychology and social work. I want to work with children from broken homes and women who have experienced domestic violence or abuse. That is a huge problem in this country.”
“It is a huge problem all over the world, unfortunately,” I say, “We need people like you to help break the chain of violence. I am overjoyed at your passion to help in that way and encourage you to pursue it.”
“Gracias,” Christina says with a twinkle in her eyes that reminds me of the threads in Maria’s guipil. “We need more people to educate men and women on how to treat each other with respect, how to end violence. I want to be a help.”
“That you are and that you will be,” I tell her as I swig the last of my Coca-Cola, “It has made my day listening to how you are planning on advancing your education and making an impact on the world. You give me more hope than you know. Thank you so much for sharing!”
“Por nada,” she says as she clears my plate and tells me to stop by any time to visit. She waves as I depart towards home. I pause and thank God for her and for the work and passion she brings so that abundant life may known in all families and nations, that peace reign eternal, and that violence ceases…
Arriving home, I surprise Isabel and Eulalia with some cupcakes and soft drinks as a break from their hard work as weavers and designers with Sharing the Dream. We giggle as the two women have me try on prototypes and talk of nothing of importance, but many things of value…
Perhaps Christ dwells ever so close in our daily encounters that we often take for granted. Perhaps the Spirit fills the spaces we create as we take time to breathe, to learn, to create, and to laugh with each other. Perhaps in these spaces we can hear our Maker whisper to us – and we hear the truth about who we are. We are beautiful daughters and sons born to make the Maker’s love known. We are beautiful daughters and sons born to daily birth hope anew alongside the One who birthed us into being. That is the truth. It is all too beautiful and overwhelming, yet it is who we are.
And even more, it is who the world needs us to be.