Bread, Breath, Benediction

September 16, 2013                      Santiago Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala

“Breathe me alive that I may become a part of the melody…” 
— Prayer for the Blessing Hour, Macrina Wiederkehr

Doña Maria* sits outside the concrete room she rents from her nephew.  Wrapped in a black sweater, she gazes up at me and holds out her right hand.  I slowly lift her to her feet as she smacks her gums, anticipating the tortillas, café, and sopa we’ve brought to her this day.

Her gorgeous grey hair is coiled around her head, entwined with red ribbon that delicately cascades down her back.

Julia bends down to yell in Maria’s good ear – “Rre wey!” and points to the tortillas on the table.

Doña Maria yells a question at Julia in Tz’utujil, asking her what month it is.  Julia replies, “¡Septiembre!”

“Septiembre?!?!” Doña Maria exclaims in amazement. 

She grabs my shoulder with her only arm and then looks upward.  She lifts her arm from my shoulder and lifts it upward in gratitude, praying in Tz’utujil, thanking God for giving her the breath of life for yet another month. 

Pointing to the food that we have arranged on her small table, she looks upward again and thanks God for the food in front of her.

She prays, “Miltiox, miltiox chawa.”  (Thank you, thank you so very much.)

Doña Maria turns to me again, speaking over me a benediction in a language older than my faith.  
Tears fill my eyes.  
I quickly blink them away as I bend down to kiss her cheek.

”Miltiox chawa, Raquel,” she whispers to me, “miltiox chawa.”

“¡Provecho!” I yell to her in her good ear. 

She giggles.

And that sound is more beautiful than all the music of all the marimbasbombas and liras that fill the streets of Santiago.

Breathing in the Melody,



*Doña Maria is a Tz’utujil elder who is sponsored by the “Meals on Sandals” program — part of Sharing the Dream’s Casa de Abuelitos.  To learn more about how YOU can sponsor and provide meals for Tz’utujil elders in Santiago through Casa de Abuelitos, please visit Sharing the Dream’s Elder Project Page.

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5 thoughts on “Bread, Breath, Benediction

  1. Thank you for sharing that story in a powerful way, it really speaks to the wonderful ways in which the Spirit works in every day life.

    • You’re more than welcome. Thanks for following, CJ! I am sure that you that you are finding your way through these everyday sacred moments as you do your internship year. Sending peace to you and the Mrs!

  2. Shelly Bennwtt

    Hello!! You came up and introduced yourself to me and my husband after the Jesus Film on 9/19/19. So excited to watch your journey unfold! God Bless You!

    • Shelly Bennwtt

      Oops! 9/19/13 🙂

    • Shelly! What a pleasure it was meeting you and your team in Santiago at the Jesus Film Tz’utujil! Thank you for connecting with me again and for following my journey. May God continue to richly bless your congregation as you support the Gospel Story being told in the language of the people here in Santiago Atitlan. Know that the Casa de Suenos has its doors open for you if you ever need a place to stay in Santiago! Peace, sister. 🙂

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