Sunday, August 24, 2008

Farewell to Antigua

It's been nine days since I left Antigua. How can I sum up seven weeks there? I'm not sure what to say. I feel as though I learned a great deal there and some of that was Spanish. I meet a lot of people and made some friends in my short time. I hope I had a positive impact on them. One friend wrote me and said that I did. It was very confirming to hear.

What she said was that she saw me as someone who gives my heart in a peaceful way. I had never thought of that before. But what I did notice was that this summer was indeed a time in which I tried to give myself more to others, to befriend people and not to be afraid to make friends.

We had pretty neat circle of friends of people from very different backgrounds and different parts of the world. It was neat how we got along. What's more, we respected each other despite our different backgrounds. It was neat though too because people knowing I am a brother asked me questions and it became a chance to present the faith to them in a way that perhaps they had not looked at it before.

What's more, I really felt as though God was showing me that His love does indeed come at times though friends and that it is not necessarily just an abstract spiritual feeling of being loved. I wonder if that is not why John Paul II used to say that he was grateful for the help of God and the help of men, to show that at times the two go together.

Really, if there is anything the big man upstairs was trying to teach me, I think it was about trusting in Him to meet my needs. Twice that seemed to be the theme of the answers I was getting to prayer, especially when looking at how to overcome some of my bad habits.\

The other thing that seemed to be the big theme in Antigua was Theology of the Body and NFP and the eucharist. Not only did two people in the span of three days talk to me about Theology of the Body, but the next day I met a woman named Mercedes Arzú de Wilson, who had written a book on NFP and wanted to give me a copy of it. It was just too much a coincidence to turn down. So I arranged to have dinner with her and her family, and strangely enough the entire event was sandwiched by eucharistic adoration. First there was eucharistic adoration finishing up at the church where I was going to mass (incidently I asked this lady to have her driver pick me up at the church after mass). Then I met the driver, went to Doña Mercedes' house, spoke with her and met her family, and had dinner. After dinner, her son Philip was nice enough to drive me back to town and drop me off in front of another church where I was supposed to meet friends. He dropped me off, but I didn't meet my friends. Seeing I was late and not knowing if my friends had gotten back from their trip in time to meet me or not, I wandered into the church which was usually not open that late (like 9:00 PM). What do you know? Eucharistic adoration! I just had to God what Theology of the Body and Eucharist had to do with each other, and I got some interesting reflections on the body of Christ and our mystical union with Christ as bride. And what do you know...! The priest during the divine praises added "Blessed be the Church, mystical body and bride of Christ." If that wasn't a confirmation, then I don't know what.

Towards the end of my stay, though, I must say it was a bit sad since most of the friends I had made had already returned to their places of origin. Sure, I left behind some Guatemalan friends too, who I hope to still hear from, but I know that if I ever return to Antigua, it won't be the same. Sure it will hold a place in my heart, but only in as much as I let the people I met there into my heart. So really it's through them that I have fond memories of Antigua. I'll miss it but my friends from the summer more so.

Farewell Antigua. It was nice to roam your streets for a while.

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