Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Reflection on Halls

Okay, for those who do not know, certain parts of Cerntral America are not warm during our "summer" but rather are actually experiencing "winter" or the rainy season. So, being damp and being chilly because of all the clouds, someone like me who has post-nasal drip problems has to often take something to clear his throat and sinuses. In the Posada I'm staying in, they sell a big huge canister of Halls menthol-lyptis drops. So of course I bought one.

The other day I was in the church of San Francisco praying at the tomb of Sant Hermano Pedro. Next to me was an indigenous woman busy praying. I tried not to disturb her, but while I was praying I kept hearing sniffles. She was crying over something yet without breaking down into tears.

Now I know that part of it may have just been that I'm a sucker for the damsal in distress, but I got this strong and sudden urge to give her one of the Halls in my pocket and explain to her (and this really just popped into my head) how life is like a Halls, a little bitter but still sweet, and that the part that is bitter can actually be for our health. At the same time as this sudden urge came upon me, I began to feel as though I was suffering with her, being sad that she was sad.

So, I kept trying to stick to my rosary, but this desire just kept growing within me to tell her this strange reflection that suddenly and inexplicably came to mind (it's not as though I sit around meditating on Halls drops). Suddenly she got up to arrange her things so as to go, and I, against my own better judgement and with a trembling voice due to my bad Spanish and the fact I was doing something that seemed nuts, begged her pardon, explained I noticed she was sad, and told her I wanted to give her a "sweet" (un dulce), explaining how the "sweet" is kind of like life, a bit bitter but still sweet, and that the bitter part can be for our health especially when we pray to God for help. The expression on her face told me that she kind of thought me a nut (I would have thought the same thing), but she took the Halls from me, went over to the tomb of Hermano Perdro, kissed it, and left.

I don't know what happened to this indigenous woman or even what she was crying over. All I know is that this experience struck me because of the way this odd reflection all of a sudden came to me to share with someone in need. The other thing that struck me was what it felt like to suffer with (have com-passion for) a complete stranger.

I pray that, whatever this woman was going through, she has found God's help in the midst of it. And if it is a bitter time for her, that she grow and come to know the sweetness of the Lord so much the more.

So life is like a Halls... bitter but still sweet, and the bitter part can be good for your spiritual health.

Peace and Good.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Another Kind of Petroleum Crisis

Well, for those who don't know, I'm in Antigua Guatemala learning Spanish (which means if you haven't heard from me it's because iternet is scarse... I'm on break at school right now). Yesterday during my lessons I had to read a news article and comment on it in Spanish. What I read shocked me. It turns out that a little known effect of the current petroleum price crisis is the increase in the cost of basic staple foods in third world countries like Guatemala. The article stated that 700 thousand Guatemalans have now been classified "Poor," meaning they can just get by, and 500 thousand have gone from being "Poor" to being "extremely poor," meaning they can not buy the food they need to maintain their health and to continue living without the help of the government or other agencies. Half a million people in Guatemala alone are now in danger of starving to death just because the price of oil and petroleum has risen! Half a million! This is surely a moral and humanitarian issue that needs to be addressed, and reading this has inspired me to write a letter to my congressman because surely the US government's policy concerning ethanol in gasoline affects the price of corn, which as you know is the main ingredient in the tortillas that many poor people in Latin-America eat in order to survive. So, a slight change in US policy could indeed easy the pain of the poor by lowering the demand and also the price of corn.

Okay, break's over. More from Antigua later.