Christmas greetings to you all,
In Costa Rica, Christmas is also the time for graduations, and any graduation is an excuse for a celebration. A colleague at work took the day off to attend her nephew’s graduation from kindergarten, a 3-hour trip each way, and, according to her, the event of the year. My friend Stephanie celebrated her graduation from sixth grade, now ready to enter “colegio” or high school. This was significant enough that her father came down from Florida to see her. In celebration of the big event, I took her and her family to a lovely resort, Sueño Azul, to fulfill one of her dreams: to go horseback riding. We share a common passion for water, so after riding and lunch, we headed for the swimming pool.
Stephanie and I arrived to Costa Rica the same year, 13 years ago, and have been friends ever since. Her mother, Elisel, worked with me in Ediciones Lumbrera, and we continued our friendship after the working relationship ended. Their family has been through rough times, including a divorce, and it has seemed important to me to be a faithful, consistent friend through it all. I remember when I was a teenager how much I longed for an adult friend in whom to confide, someone other than a parent.
When I returned to Costa Rica a year ago, I made the commitment to take Stephanie to church with me. That weekly time together has been meaningful to both of us. Her spiritual sensitivity is like a bud beginning to open, a treasure that I must help to grow.
At the resort we explored an art gallery of the traditional “ghosts” of Costa Rica, the phantoms that were part of the folklore told by parents to their children, provoking a “marvelous fear.” The painter, Ana Victoria Garro, introduced her work with these words:
“Before, fear was something else. . .
Seguas, cadejas, lloronas and other fantastic beings
They meddled with people, sometimes for real
and sometimes just for fun.
That fear, marvelous, didn’t have this form
of a rolled up centipede. We didn’t know about weapons,
alarms, wire fences, not even tranquilizers: pills
to not be afraid. Maybe some day, the fear of those days
will return to the halls of the houses
on the solitary roads, in the old houses,
in the darkness, everywhere.”
It reminded me of my own childhood, almost completely free from the fear of violence from other human beings. People can unite to face a “spook,” but are divided by fears of one another. Stephanie is growing up in a different world from the one I knew, a less friendly and more threatening world. A world in which a friend is a priceless gift.
At this Christmas season, I am thankful that God, who came to earth as a baby, continues to be present with us through the relationships that make real to us God’s friendship and love. I thank God for YOU.
A blessed Christmas to you all.