Tuesday, April 18, 2017

People travel far and wide to enjoy the world’s countless wonders. As it turns out, sometime the most beautiful things are just around the corner. The locals are likely to ignore them until someone from out of town comes along and… we discover our own backyard. 

This is what happened to me yesterday. My dear friends Judy and Chris came up from Louisville to check on me and be sure I am on my best behavior after open heart surgery (I am). It was a beautiful day and we drove to Eden Park to see the Great Monarch Butterfly Show at the Krohn Conservatory. The last time I had been there was in 1998 when my niece had crossed the Ocean to come to visit.
The three of us had a wonderful and peaceful time. Mercifully, at Krohn's there are lots of places where one can sit down and let these wonderful creatures come to you. There were butterflies of all sizes, ages and colors fluttering all over the pavilion. Children and adults alike tried all kind of tricks to have one of them land on their hands, head or clothing. It was fun watching people just as much as it was watching the butterflies.

We decided to sit down near the flowers and leave the initiative to the critters. Eventually a large one came to rest on Chris’ jeans first, before settling down on Judy’s little paper holder. And there it sat for the longest time. It needed a rest just like me. It was older, a volunteer explained, the edges of the wings were a little frayed and it only had three legs. We sympathized!

There were lots of other wonderful and eye-filling surprises: marvelous orchids, the rain forest, desert cacti, the Japanese pond with red fish yea long, a waterfall and comfortable benches everywhere, thank God.

We covered a number of other spots and had an abundant meal of what is commonly referred to in the States as “Italian food.” But above all, we enjoyed our old friendship going back to the 1950s. It doesn’t get any better than that: friends and butterflies on a comfortable bench in the shade.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I'll do it! I'll do it!
 March 2016, Good Friday celebration in San Luis Petén, Guatemala.

The highlight of Good Friday in San Luis, as in most Guatemalan towns, is the live re-enactment of the Way of the Cross as part of a long procession during which the statues of Jesus, His Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalen and the Apostle John are carried over beds of flowers, color sawdust, and even fruit. All the people of the town take part in it either as actors, carriers or spectators.

The youth organizations were in charge of the live Way of the Cross, putting their heart and soul into creating a realistic scene at every station while following a very precise script.

Then it happened. The narrator intoned:  “Fifth Station, Simon of Cyrene is made to carry the cross.” On cue, a “Roman officer” shouts the order to his cohorts: “find someone to help Jesus of Nazareth carry the cross!”

But before the “soldiers” had time to grab the reluctant “helper,” a voice rose from the crowd: “I will do it! I will do it!” and, to everyone’s surprise, a young country girl came forward and picked up the cross.

She faced the “soldiers” and stood her grounds. And the Way of the Cross moved on to its deathly conclusion refreshed by this simple and spontaneous act of faith and compassion.

It lifted my soul.