I stepped out of the humble house and into the early morning air. Although I didn’t know what time it was, I knew that is was early despite the warm sun that was steadily filling the village with light. Embracing the time of solitude, I walked to a hammock and prayed morning prayer, with pauses to watch the water crash on the rocky coastline.
No, perfection was when I finished prayer and spotted a little boy who was creeping around, casting side-long glances at me. After going inside to get my camera, I had a mini photo shoot with him and his friends. They were adorable. One moment they were posing for pictures and the next they were crowded around my camera, only to double over with delight as they saw themselves on the little screen.
Or perhaps perfection was the feeling of being loved and acceptable absolutely as we entered a village unannounced and were immediately given food and shelter. Each meal was the best that they could offer–we even had lobster for breakfast one time. It was being invited to a captain’s house and hearing him explain that he would have been at Mass the night before but that he had been out in the water and didn’t know about it.
Or perhaps it was the ride in the rickety old boat that seemed ill-suited for six people and backpacks. It was a simple boat with a motor strapped on the back that cruised over impressive swells. The water sprayed my face, the sun kissed my fair skin, and my excitement was mixed with silent prayers that we wouldn’t sink. But then someone spotted a dolphin and soon after I viewed a wild dolphin racing in the water.
Or perhaps perfection was the joy of hiking through the coastal landscape–crawling over rocks, racing up steep inclines, stopping to enjoy the glories of coconut water while sweat ran down my face and back in rivulets. The moments of pausing to dip our bottles into the cool springs so that we could filter the water to be suitable for our weak stomachs. Walking to villages to which no cars can arrive simply to bring the best one could offer–Christ present in the Eucharist. Watching the people unlock their churches with a sense of pride that is difficult to find in the “developed” world and then hearing them spread the word throughout the village that a priest was in their midst.
Perhaps, in my mind, Honduras is perfection in every aspect. I understand that the country is going through difficult times, that the homicide rate is one of the highest in the world, and that poverty is abundant. But I experienced so much grace and perfection in Honduras. The Lord blessed me with being able to go to Honduras twice for spring break mission trips in college. As I saw the poverty of the people, I saw a simplicity that made my heart ache. It made me want to return home and give all of my extra possessions away. It made me want to become a missionary after college. And right now it fills me with a desire to return to Honduras someday.
Honduras has been on my mind lately because in just a few days another mission trip will be launched to that beautiful country and my heart aches to be with them. Yet I can go back and embrace the memories and for a moment, I am in that grace-filled place again, walking through the coastal land, eating fresh seafood, celebrating Mass with people who manage to praise God in the midst of adversity.
Heaven is indescribable. I like to think that Heaven will be like all of the beautiful, grace-filled moments of my life linked together…and then more. It will be the sum of beautiful adoration hours, hikes in foreign countries, the smell of incense, the feeling of a bed after a long day, the delirious joy of the Holy Spirit, the thankfulness of a student, the embrace of a cloistered sister, the glory of a sun-bathed afternoon, every delightful food, and the reunion of each beautiful friend…and more.
In the midst of times that seem less grace-filled, it is nice to be able to go back and re-live some moments where I knew the Lord was working and present. Yet not to get lost in them. Simply to experience the joy and then return to the present with a renewed vigor to pray for God’s kingdom to come now…in me and in this world.