Warm Fruit Soup and The Better Part

Last night I joined a couple hundred ladies for a short “women’s conference” at my church. I really didn’t want to be there—I’m still grading papers, even at the end of spring break, laundry is undone and the house is a shambles—but the title was “Mary or Martha? Responding to Christ in Your Life.”

I had to go.
Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, Vermeer, 1654.
For those not familiar with the story, Martha and Mary of Bethany were sisters of Lazarus and friends of Jesus. Their story, told in the Gospel of Luke (10:38-42) involves Martha, who is busy preparing dinner and being a hostess, and her sister Mary (not the mother of Jesus), sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his message. When Martha complains that Mary isn’t helping, Jesus gently points out that those details don’t matter, that Mary has chosen the better part.
Most modern women have a Martha complex. We want everything to be neat, orderly, clean, and perfect. We want to entertain in style and provide a gracious home for our families and guests. We plan, and we’re annoyed when plans blow up. We struggle to balance these desires with jobs, volunteer work, and perhaps marriage and/or motherhood.  The Martha/Mary story does not seem to resonate with men. It’s a girl thing.
So, what does this have to do with fruit soup?
The leader of the conference was a fellow parishioner named Andrea. She is the mother of 9 kids, and one awesome woman. She shared a number of stories about trying to live a Mary life in a Martha world, and her failures along with her successes were an inspiration.  But the story that stuck with me was the one about warm fruit soup.
Andrea is active in the Schoenstattmovement, a Marian mission started in Germany in 1914. She told a story related in a book by the founder of the movement, Father Joseph Kentenich. A young girl entered the novitiate at a convent in northern Germany. At the first meal, a bowl of warm fruit soup was placed in front of her. This was not anything she was used to eating, but the nun sitting next to her said she didn’t need to eat it. However, the mother superior was seated on the other side of her, and she said “You will be brave.”
Andrea challenged us to look for the examples of the “warm fruit soup” in our lives, and to overcome inner resistance and aversion to the unfamiliar. All of us who are “Marthas” want to have control of our lives, so we often resist change. What we need to do is find the courage to direct the emotions and passions we’re feeling in the right direction. If we connect our aversions to something we love, we can overcome them.
In the past week I’ve had to deal with coming home to a smoky, smelly mess in my kitchen which is still unexplained. Alzheimer’s hubby couldn’t tell me why my prized LeCreuset roasting plan was a blackened hulk, full of ash and the remains of a zipper, on the stove. At least the house didn’t burn down. Dear friends showed up to rescue the evening with awesome carryout from The Bowllery and a bottle of wine. Later that evening I hid the stove knobs and the oven knobs—we’ve had a few near misses there, too.
When I decided to cook on the stovetop a few days later, I turned on the stove and realized it doesn’t work anymore. It will get things warm, not hot.
Great, another thing to fix—another credit card bill.
We’ve had some power surges, and I’m guessing we have an electrical problem in the kitchen. I just pray the house doesn’t burn down before I figure out what it is and find the money to fix it.
The upside? I am now an expert at cooking noodles in the microwave.
Andrea’s fruit soup story has become a mantra in less than 24 hours. I even have a Post-it note over the bathroom mirror with “Warm Fruit Soup” written on it, to remind me to be brave and to decide what’s really worth getting worked up about, and what can be ignored.  Dipping into something new doesn’t have to be unpleasant or scary. It’s up to me to control my emotions, especially my response to them.
So the papers aren’t graded, there are too many shoes and books laying around the house, the yard looks like hell and the laundry isn’t folded. That’s OK. Like Martha, I’m trying to find the better part, to figure out what’s really important, and to pick my battles. To be more like her sister Mary.
And while we’re at it, here’s a German recipe for warm fruit soup that looks really interesting.

A Denton seminarian’s account of the new Pope’s introduction to the world

Below is a message from Joe Keating. Many of you might remember him as the former Youth Minister at St Mark Catholic Church. He is now in Seminary in Rome. Read his exciting account of all that happened Wednesday, March 13:

Dear Friends and Family,

This email started off as an update, and soon became a novel. What follows is an account of the events of yesterday from my point of view. If you have time to read it all, I hope that you will feel like you were there too. I carry all of you in my prayers, especially at joyful times such as these.

White Smoke

Yesterday began as an ordinary day, with Mass and seminary classes in the morning. After third hour, most of us made our way over to St. Peter’s square to watch the smoke come from the chimney at noon. But as I approached the square at about 10 minutes till noon, there were already crowds streaming away from the piazza. I asked someone, “did the smoke already go up?” “Sì, è nera,” he said. I was kind of shocked that it was early, but thankful that I didn’t miss the white smoke. 

My afternoon seminar was cancelled, so a few of us from my hall went back to the Square at 5:00 to pray and watch for potential white smoke after the first afternoon ballot. We prayed a rosary and sang a litany of the saints and a Marian hymn. It was raining on and off, but the Square was still packed with people (47% of whom were reporters :P). I can only imagine what the forest of umbrellas must have looked like from above! At 6:00 we rushed back to the College for Evening Prayer, then rushed straight back to the Square to see the smoke at 7:00.

White smoke from the Sistine Chape. (c) Boston Globe

At that point, many of us were expecting another round of black smoke. Thursday was the day I was betting on, and some were saying it would be Saturday or even sometime next week. After having seen the black smoke on Tuesday evening, I knew that there would be an initial puff of grayish smoke, followed by billowing black. I was chatting with my classmates when the smoke emerged at around 7:05. My thoughts went in rapid succession a little like this: “Oh, here comes the smoke… it’s gray now, but it’s going to be black… ok, it’s still not black… it’s not turning black… is it white? White smoke??!! WE GOT WHITE SMOKE!! OH YEAH!! HABEMUS PAPAM, BABY!! 

Vatican News Service photo

Anticipation and Announcement

At this point, everyone was cheering, shouting, and basically stampeding towards the front of the square. The umbrella forest became a dense jungle canopy. In the chaos of the crowd, I somehow managed to end up in a small group of NAC seminarians, well in front of the obelisk and about 30 yards from the front barricades. The giant bells of St. Peter’s began to ring, and the commotion intensified–you could just feel the anticipation in the air. It continued to rain lightly, and I strained to snap a few pictures of the white smoke, the bells, and the crowd. My classmates and I were buzzing about the new pope, but we really had absolutely no new information. We started guessing what his new name would be… Paul VII? John XXIV? Pius XIII? Leo? Someone we’ve never heard of? At least nobody guessed Peter II.

Those 45 minutes went by in a flash, but the next 15 were an eternity. The rain slowed, then stopped. The umbrella jungle vanished. Then we began to see signs of movement. The lights on the loggia came on, and the people cheered. There was a rustle of the curtains, and the people cheered. Someone thought they saw a shadow, and the people cheered. It was like they were teasing us! Finally, the windows swung open, and the cardinal stepped out, announcing a message of great joy: habemus papam! He announced his birth name and his new name in Latin, then retreated back inside. The reaction from the crowd was not what I expected. Up to now, every little thing made the crowd erupt in cheers, but this time, all I heard was hushed murmuring all around. In dozens of different languages, everyone seemed to be collectively thinking, “what did he say? Bergoglio? who is that?” A single word passed my lips: “Francis.” Our Holy Father is Francis.

My friends quickly pulled out their smartphones and desperately tried to find some webpage, Wikipedia page, Facebook page, anything to let us know who he is. It was no use; the cell towers couldn’t handle the number of phones in the piazza. My classmate jokingly remarked, “It’s definitely a first-world problem that I can’t update my Facebook status right now.” Then we tried to recall whether there had been a pope Francis. I could have sworn that there was, but I must have been thinking of the handful of Franciscan popes we have had through the years. So, Francis the first… immediately I recalled the words St. Francis of Assisi heard from the Lord, “Francis, rebuild my Church, which has fallen into ruin.” A great sense of hope, joy, and zeal washed over me. This Pope’s leadership will shape my priestly ministry.

The Holy Father Emerges

As Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony, the crowd, as expected, erupted. I couldn’t see the jumbotron over the crowd, so I just stared up at the balcony as he began to speak. “Cari fratelli e sorelle, buona sera!” Another eruption of cheers. His first request, “Before I give you my blessing, I would ask that you pray for me.” Then came the din of a million people in complete silence. “For fortitude… for faithfulness,” I prayed. He gave us his Apostolic Blessing and bid us good night and rest well. He must not have slept a wink last night.

Vatican News Service Photo

Back at the College

We returned to the College and immediately did what Pope Francis asked: we solemnly exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and began to sing hymns and pray for him. After our prayers and a quick bite to eat came a scene that I will not soon forget. By now, the American media had arrived in the building, and the cardinals were on their way. The whole seminary community lined the halls and waited for the cardinals’ homecoming. The scene quickly turned into a pep-rally/victory party atmosphere, with raucous cheers and chants you would expect in a football stadium. Our two Jesuit faculty members, Fr. Herrera and Fr. Hurley, tried to hide in the back of the crowd, but they were quickly thrown into the center of the cheering seminarians to shouts of HE–RRE–RA! and FA–ther HUR–ley! clap-clap, clap-clap-clap. You know the one. I can only imagine what was going through the media’s minds as they heard the shouts echoing through the halls. They must have been perplexed by our celebration–“shouldn’t they be disappointed that an American didn’t win?” Quite the contrary. We have a pope. He is the vicar of Christ, who is the head of His body, the Church. He is the visible sign that the Church will endure forever and for all ages. 

Then the cardinals finally arrived–Dolan first. “DO-LAN! DO-LAN!” we cheered. You would have thought he was the one elected pope. You see, he is a former Rector of the North American College, so the exuberant welcome had a real feeling of homecoming for us all. Then one by one, the others came through… Rigali, Wuerl, DiNardo, George, Mahoney. They filed down the halls and towards the media, who were waiting to interview them in various rooms in the College. 

The celebration continued into the night, and everyone exchanged stories on what they had heard about our new Holy Father. A former Jesuit, a humble man, a life of radical poverty, an Argentine… In the end, we knew that God has provided us with a good shepherd. A new chapter now begins in this great adventure. Please pray for our new Pope, Francis. And if you ever get to visit Rome, you can join with the cheers of faithful from around the world, “FRAN–CES–CO! FRAN–CES–CO!”

Yours in Christ,

Joe Keating

Thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI and the next guy in the job

I woke up this morning to the startling news that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning at the end of the month, citing failing health and energy. The last time a pope resigned was in 1415 when Pope Gregory XII stepped down to end the Western Schism that had multiple claimants to the papacy.  Obviously, nobody alive has experienced a situation like this.
Pontiffs die—sometimes suddenly, sometimes after a long illness—and an appropriate mourning period is completed before a conclave is convened to elect a new pope.  The new pope is guided by the former pope’s staff and tradition, and learns the job as he goes. Very little changes, and when it does, it’s not rapid change. This is the way it’s been for 2,000 years.
For the first time in six centuries the next pope will have his predecessor alive and nearby. How will that man, known only to God right now, feel about that? No pope in more than half a millennium has had his predecessor around to watch how he’s doing.
Presidents and Prime Ministers usually have one or more predecessors around and often consult them on matters of state. There’s a period of time between the election and the inauguration, and a transition staff ensures a seamless transfer of power. This happens with local elected offices as well. It’s considered a courtesy for the former leader to help the new leader assume power.
Monarchs die, but they have had decades to groom their replacement, their heir, for the job. The rare abdicationusually results in a parent going into retirement while the heir takes the reigns.
If the President of the United States dies in office or resigns(and I’ve experienced both in my lifetime) there is still an orderly, if slightly frantic, transition of power.  Even with short notice and lots of emotion, the new president can step into the job because presumably he (or someday she) has been kept in the loop and groomed for the job. The U.S. Constitution (25th Amendment) is very clear about presidential succession.
Not so with the pope, who is, after all, a head of state as well as the spiritual leader of a billion Catholics worldwide. There is no “pope-in-waiting” or “vice pope,” no constitutional line of succession. While names of possible new popes are already being tossed around, nobody is groomed for the job, and nobody on Earth has ever had the last pope on speed dial.
By many accounts, Pope Benedict accepted the job reluctantly. A shy academic theologian more comfortable with his books and writing, he took to the job with energy despite being the oldest pope (78) at election in more than 300 years. While he never achieved the rock star status of Blessed John Paul II, he grew into the role as the years went on, and leaves a legacy of influence and change in the church during troubled times. He even promoted the use of social media by the clergy, and encouraged better communication from the Vatican.  
Yes, the shadow of the sex abuse scandal is a long one, and it will be a generation before those involved are no longer part of the clergy. But Benedict’s influence, leadership, and scholarship cast a longer shadow, and the next pope is faced with the extraordinary knowledge that the only guy alive who knows what the job is like is only a text or a tweet away. 

Santa’s Yarmulke

As a little kid growing up in South Bend, Indiana, Christmas was a big deal. It started Thanksgiving weekend when Daddy made fruitcakes which he then aged with periodic splashes of bourbon. Mom spent days stressing out over baking and decorating cookies, shopping, wrapping presents and sending many cards to friends all over the place. Big brother Mike and I had Christmas Club accounts at our local bank so we could save up to buy presents. Decorations had to be perfect, even though we lived in a modest post-war house in a blue collar neighborhood on O’Brien Street. There was usually one adult party, but the highlight of it all was Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass, and a visit from Santa.

Somehow Mom managed to get us to take a nap the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Since Mike is 9 1/2 years older than me, it was probably easier to get him to sleep. Sometime around 8 p.m. we were awake and dressed up and had a light Christmas Eve dinner that always included shrimp cocktail (a big deal in 1960’s Indiana). I don’t remember what else we had, but the shrimp cocktail sticks out in my mind, and it’s not a Christmas Eve without it today. Mom made a big fuss with the good china and crystal and lit candles on the table. We’d watch TV, put out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, then leave for Midnight Mass in time to be in our seats by 10:45. Mom always referred to those people who only show up for Mass at Christmas and Easter as the “Poinsettia and Lilly Brigade” and you had to get there early or they’d beat you to a seat.

Even when I was little I always stayed awake through Midnight Mass. I loved the pageantry, even though I had no clue what was going on because in those days it was all in Latin. The candles, the poinsettias, the lit trees, and the nativity scene were always so vivid at night. When they put the baby Jesus in the manger at Midnight it was really Christmas. The incense and music made the whole evening so special I forgot about Santa. It was long, but it was lovely and I was entranced with it all.

Some time after 1 a.m., Mass was over and we’d head home. I remember clear, cold, starry nights that were always silent and magical. Sometimes we’d drive home through the rich neighborhoods to ooh and aah at the spectacular lighting displays on the houses.

Arriving home, Dad would unlock the front door, look inside and go “Wow! Look who’s been here!” We’d rush into the house and there, under and around the Christmas tree, would be a fabulous array of wrapped presents and toys, displayed beautifully under the twinkling lights on the tree. We would stand there and admire the presents with anticipation, waiting for Mom or Dad to say it was OK to open them.

Mom would start calling friends to tell them we were home. These were folks who had been pre-invited to our “midnight breakfast” and they were up waiting for confirmation that we were home. Daddy would start making omelets and hash browns as people came to the door. Drinks were mixed and champagne flowed.

The first folks to arrive were always the Zubkoffs, the Jewish family next door. Harold and Birgit (who had a concentration camp tattoo on her arm) were always very interested in the packages under the tree, quizzing  us about what we thought might be within. Interestingly, there was always a package under our tree for their daughter Karen (a year older than me) and son Ian (a couple years younger than me). Birgit explained that because they didn’t really celebrate Christmas, Santa didn’t come to their house, but always left something for their kids at our house because he knew we were friends.

Once all the adults arrived and food was served we kids were allowed to open one present each. Sometimes the adult guests brought us presents, which we could open, but most of the presents from Santa had to wait until morning. Sometime around 3 a.m. the last guests said their goodbyes, and we were left in the quiet house. Depending on Mom’s mood we might open the rest of our presents then, or we might go to bed knowing we could open the rest of the presents when we awoke. Either way, the years when Santa visited during Midnight Mass were the most special of all.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I figured out Harold and Birgit probably had a key to the house, to let Santa in, since we didn’t have a chimney. That’s why they were always the first to arrive for the midnight breakfast, and why they always knew which present we should open first. Who knew Santa wore a yarmulke?

I look back on these Christmas celebrations with warmth and joy. Our small family had a large extended family that included friends near and far. That my parents figured out a way to include our Jewish neighbors is a testament to how we should all join together in love, understanding and peace.

Merry Christmas!

I confess–I like the idea of the iConfession app

I’m kind of getting a kick out of this whole iPhone confession app.  Not about the app itself—as a practicing Catholic, I think it’s a great idea. Most of us have a little wallet card or brochure with a list of bullet points to consider when examining our conscience before confession, and there are plenty of books out there about preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Making that checklist available electronically on a device that’s almost surgically attached makes sense to someone like me who can never find that little wallet card when it’s time to make nice with God. And the idea of making a list of transgressions on the gadget will replace the need (for me at least) to take a legal pad with a list of sins into the confessional.

What I’m getting a kick out of is the media—and public—reaction to it. A quick Google search of “iconfession” turns up 840 news articles at the moment I’m writing this.  My students have even blogged about it.

Starting with a snarky blog on Time Magazine’s site, the headline (and we all know most people only read the headline and lead these days) gives the impression that you can now phone in your confession.

I have no way of knowing if this is the article that started all the misinformation in the media and the blogosphere, but it does point out two problems with journalism today: Writers who don’t check their facts and writers who go for the sensational over facts.

This bnet blog would be offensive if it didn’t betray how ignorant the writer is. That’s another problem with the blogosphere—people who are too lazy or stupid to research a story write out of incompetence or misinformation—deliberate or accidental—and get Tweeted, Facebooked, Digged, Delicioused, Reddited and otherwise given credibility by readers as ignorant as the writer.

After several days of innuendo, misinformation and complete nonsense, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops finally blogged about it, and presented a pretty thorough assessment of the app and the crazy media case study it has become. Read that blog, and be sure to check out the links imbedded in it. It would be a great case study for students to follow.

To me, this whole thing is a perfect example of what happens when people read part of a story and rush to judgment—and writing, and tweeting—before getting all the facts straight. Journalists are taught to be skeptical and check facts multiple times before running with a story. Bloggers with no journalism education or scruples are only interested in massaging their egos and running with sensationalism because they know it will be forwarded and read by people who should know better.

As for me, if I had an iPhone, I’d have downloaded the app by now. I can never find the little brochure or card that reminds me of what I need to consider before confession, but I’m never far from my Blackberry. Hopefully by the time I upgrade to an Android the Android version of the app will be available.

Gifts from Guatemala

I’m decompressing from a week with the Maya people in Patzun, Guatemala. From living in the quiet solitude of a Carmelite convent and visiting gentle people in simple villages, I’ve returned to the sensory overload that is life in these United States. It’s quite an adjustment.

It didn’t help that I returned home to a moldy, soggy mess in the form of two front bedrooms flooded from an outside drainage problem. I just wasn’t ready to deal with moving everything out of those rooms (full of my late father-in-law’s books and junk) to rip up carpet and scrub. But I’ve been able to contain my resentment of this interruption to my plans by putting it in perspective based on where I’ve just been.

Point of reference: I live in a 3,200 square foot house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, three living areas, a huge kitchen and two dining spaces. There’s a big shady yard, patio and pool. Sure, it’s the old, neglected, 1969 ranch we inherited from Bill’s dad, it’s got foundation problems, the original 1969 wallpaper and carpet, and a vintage kitchen with countertops the color of Post-it notes, but it’s home, and the floor plan is perfect. I’m looking forward to fixing it up, decorating it to our liking, and returning to my old habits of entertaining our diverse group of friends.

Most of the people I met in Guatemala are poor sharecroppers, making $2-$3 a day. I’m not sure what the women make weaving and embroidering traditional garments, but they all seem to have between 5 and 12 kids, no access to healthcare, and no real opportunity for economic advancement in remote mountain villages devoid of infrastructure or industry.  More than one family could live in my house in Denton, as awful as I think it is, and probably think they’re living the high life.

The really nice houses are concrete block, most likely with a concrete slab floor, and rebar sticking out of the roof in optimistic anticipation of a second floor someday in the future. I’m pretty sure indoor plumbing is rare, and most roofs are corrugated metal. Everybody cooks on a wood stove. I’m told they sleep on mats on the floor, and when it’s cold there’s little or no heat in the homes.  Other homes are made of bamboo or wood (and sometimes cornstalks) stacked kind of like log cabins, with mud chinking betweeen. They undoubtedly have a dirt floor.

My resentment at spending several days cleaning out two rooms I almost never use is a little out of place, considering that the vast majority of the people in the world don’t have extra rooms to stash junk they don’t use but can’t bear to part with.  I’ve seen people living in grass and mud huts in Africa, ramshackle dwellings in India and Thailand, adobe and tin homes in Mexico and Venezuela, and plenty of urban and rural poverty in the United States. But I’ve never experienced poverty at this level. It’s everywhere in Guatemala. Meeting the people, seeing the villages, and experiencing how poor they are is not the same as speeding by on the tour bus, looking on and saying “How awful people have to live that way.” 

When you see people line up and wait patiently for their turn with the nurse practitioner to discuss their baby’s ear infection, their anxiety and inability to sleep, or their aching joints from long hours in the fields, you can empathize.  But there’s no Walgreens on the corner to buy a bottle of Tylenol, no CVS Minute Clinic to get a prescription for Amoxicillin.  And if there was, what would you pay with?  $2 a day won’t buy many Advil anywhere, especially in a country that does not allow generic drugs because they have no FDA for quality control.

We did the best we could.  Jean, our nurse practitioner, refers to these clinics as “comfort meds.” Our little mobile pharmacy dispensed antibiotics, anti-parasite drugs, and basic diabetes and high blood pressure meds. People with sleep problems received Benadryl. Pregnant women received a “pregnancy pack” consisting of Tums (for calcium), folic acid, multivitamins, and Tylenol for pain.  Children also received vitamins, no matter what their complaint was. And we gave out Advil, Naprosyn and muscle rub to the aching farm workers who lined up near the end of each clinic.

Whenever I counted out something as simple as 30 Advil and prepared a package of muscle rub and gave it to an aching father, with an explanation of how to take it, I was struck by how grateful and gracious the response.  When the baby had a fever and needed medicine, the mother waited patiently while we prepared everything, labeled it in Spanish and with a visual aid, then explained how to properly administer the drug.  The response was always the same–a warm handshake, a gracious “Thank you” and “Veo a Dios en ti” which is “I see God in you.”

They have no idea that most of us have a stash of painkillers at home and in the office, and often in our purse or backpack. We have family doctors, specialists and extended hours clinics to help us with myriad medical complaints. They have missionaries who periodically appear from a faraway land to provide limited help.  A simple over the counter medicine is a wonderful gift of love and comfort from a stranger who’s come from far away just to make their life a tad more comfortable.  They are so appreciative of things we take for granted.  Are we that appreciative of our gifts?  I never really saw any complaints–these people are poor and have a hard life, but they have tremendous faith in God, love their children and their families, and always have a smile to share. 

Last night, after moving furniture and ripping out wet carpet, I took my glass of wine out to the backyard hot tub to soak my sore muscles.  When do these hard working souls ever get that chance? 

I gave out medicine, toys, candy and smiles in Patzun.  I know the little girl I gave the jump rope to will love and appreciate it for a long time. But she gave me a gift I’ll cherish forever–a new appreciation for the simple things, for a smile and a hug from a friend or a kind stranger.  She, and all the people I met, really helped me appreciate how good I’ve got it–even if I think my life has been really rotten these last couple of years–and how good it can be with just the love of friends and family and faith and trust in God.  All the whiners and haters and complainers in the USA would do well to spend quality time with the people I just spent a week with. Maybe their hard-hearted attitudes will soften toward those less fortunate than themselves, and they’ll be less divisive and mean in their speech and actions.  We can only hope.

The last patient haunts me. We had packed everything up after seeing about 40 patients and administering antiparasite medicine to 250 kids at the school in El Sitio. Our lunch finished, we were seated in the van, ready for the long, rainy drive home, when Miriam, our Mayan interpreter, asked if we could see a baby. No telling how far this mother had walked in the cold rain with this sick baby, but the child had suffered from diarrhea for 15 days. Of course, we unpacked, Jean examined the child, and we dug out rehydration salts and Bactrim suspension from our drug boxes to give to the baby.  But 15 days is a long time for anybody to have diarrhea, and I still wonder about that little baby and whether or not it makes it.

The gifts I received from my brief stay in Guatemala are incalculable and intangible, and much greater than those I gave. As a skilled wordsmith, I’m still seeking the words to describe this experience.  I do intend to return.  Maybe the Holy Spirit will inspire me with the words necessary to describe the change this experience has made in my life. 

For the St. Mark Catholic Church blog on Guatemala, check out http://stmarkguatemala.blogspot.com/

(c) Samra Jones Bufkins, July 3, 2010.