Where I am going you know the way….
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
John 14: 4, 6
Last Wednesday I went to Gracias, Lempira, as I do about once a month, to be with the Dubuque Franciscan sisters there for a day of retreat.
This month Nancy started the morning with a guided meditation, much like Ignatius’ prayer of contemplation. She asked us to imagine ourselves out walking; we encounter Mary, embrace, and begin talking as we walk.
I envisioned myself walking on a road that follows a ridge, between Plan Grande and El Zapote. The views from the ridge are splendid – especially on a clear day.
In my imagination I encountered Mary under the lone tree along a stretch of the road.
Then we walked toward El Zapote. I didn’t ask Mary any question, but I heard four words from her in Spanish: “Camina con mi pueblo” – “Walk with my people.”
As I look at my life and as I contemplate my move out to the countryside in a few months, I think, as a friend suggested, that I am beginning a new phase of my ministry here.
I will be walking with the people, living in the midst of a village, near the village school and the old village church which is used for religious education, church meetings, and music practice for the local group, La Gran Familia.
It will be a challenge – since I’m somewhat of a hermit. But it’s an opportunity to live out my faith in community with others.
In many ways it will help me live out the challenge of the first paragraph of Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the [people] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.
I think one of the greatest challenges for all of us is to find our way to live this out – to walk with God’s people, as Jesus and Mary walked with them and continue to walk with us.