I'm in Ocotepeque, Honduras for the week with the Catholic organization Unbound and before I forget--I say become a sponsor of a child or old person pronto!
I'm going to, the minute I return home.
It's unbelievable how much thirty bucks a month means to the folks here who use the money for, among other things, school supplies, food, medicine, clothing, and/or a roof.
I'm going to work up a piece for The Tidings when I return home with more info on the incredible work and spirit of this great organization. Processing the five days I've spent here will take weeks.
On a more personal note, I was holding up quite well till Day Three of non-stop travel, people, and visits. The printed schedule said we were to return to the hotel by 5 at which time I had planned to enjoy a precious hour "to myself" when I could take a much-needed walk. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, and that I was going to have no free time that day whatsoever, and that we were also going to miss Mass, I could feel myself caving. Then I snapped.
"So what time are we going to get back to the hotel?" I keened. "I cannot do this again tomorrow." .
And it was true. I really couldn't have.
What I've learned is that when you say to normal people, "I can't function if I don't have time to myself," what they hear is "I'm a selfish whiner making an unreasonable demand" and what they figure is "Just push the laggard: she'll fall in with the rest of us if she has to."
But I am not kidding. After a certain amount of time with other people I go into mental, emotional, spiritual and nervous-system overload to the point where my system simply crashes. I can't hide my discomfort. I'll become visibly agitated. Then, depending on the situation, I'll get belligerent. And finally, I'll become catatonic. I'll just close my eyes wherever I am and, like one those bugs who rolls themselves into a ball, refuse to participate: in line at the bank, in the middle of a conversation, at your wedding. Heck, at my wedding.
Most people, i.e. extroverts may find it a little extra trouble to be with people for 12, 14, 16 hours a day, but what the hey. In fact, they ENJOY being with people for 12 hours straight. They don't even think about it.
For an introvert like me, 12 hours of people is like running a marathon. You have to practice. You have to prepare and pace yourself. You feel like throwing up halfway through. You stagger through the finish line, if at all, sweating and shaking. Then you collapse and have to recuperate for a few days.
Anyway, at the risk of appearing selfish, weak, and standoffish, I opted out of Afternoon 3 of visits with the people of Honduras. People who suffer extreme poverty, a government that does nothing for them, and hardships unimaginable to a person from the First World.
I got dropped at my hotel and I got to simply lie on my bed and be for an hour. I fell asleep. I woke and had a cup of coffee and then I set out on a walk: to the commercial strip, to the hilly streets above the city, and then down and around again to an area near the church where I wandered about, delighting in the random sights: an old green wooden door, a high adobe wall behind which grew a tree with vibrant orange flowers, a red-tiled roof sprouting air plants.
By this time the sun was setting and I found a low wall and just sat: drinking in the light and the mountains. Smoke drifted. A jacaranda tree bloomed. A man walked by with his young son: Buenas. Buenas. On a telephone wire right above me perched a magnificent bright yellow bird. Black markings. A notched tail. Suddenly it flew spreading its wings to reveal a thrilling expanse of golden chest.
That was when I truly "felt" Honduras: its land, the people I'd met, its beauty, its suffering.
So all was well. That little bit of solitude and inner silence set me right.
The next morning we got to celebrate Mass with the children at Casa Hogar. I sat in the back with three small boys beside me, sharing their hymn sheet. Arlin, the special needs kid, played tambourine.
At the petitionary prayers, one girl prayed for the people who didn't have a roof over their heads like she did, who didn't have food to eat like she did, who didn't have access to an education as she did.
Above the alter hung a crucifix with the lacerated Christ who these children knew well.
At the Sign of Peace, they circulated: smiling, touching, embracing us.
The whole trip would have been worth that one half-hour--and my time with the bird.
|ARLIN (SEE PREVIOUS POST) WITH HIS TAMBOURINE|
WAITING FOR MASS TO BEGIN.
HIS TIMING AND RHYTHM WERE GENIUS.