Two Sunday's ago, I took some time to study and then decided that I would give myself some time. I told the cook not to cook for me as I would find something in the city to eat. This was something that I rarely did. Translated that meant that I would look for some good old greasy American food. I thought I would head to McDonalds which is about a 15 minute walk; I wanted to see how they did McDonalds in Guatemala anyway. I got about half way there and my path led me to a pizza place where the pizza looked American, and when I saw that they had French fries, the deal was sealed. I sat down at a small table facing the street on the slightly rainy evening that was a tad chilly. I ordered 2 slices of pizza, fries and a large Pepsi. I took out my Nook and continued reading a fabulous book that I had downloaded from the Toledo Public Library….The Child Who Never Grew by Pearl S. Buck (did you know that she had a mentally challenged child???) So, I am watching people, listening to the rain, reading a good book by myself in Guatemala. Was this heaven or what????
Then I saw him.
There across the narrow, cobbled and wet street full of people, on a low step just outside the margin of the rain sat a man who was napping and then waking. I looked up and back down at my book several times…trying to ignore the nudge to give him something to eat. First, I thought that I might buy him some pizza and walk it over to him. That just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel that I should leave the place and walk across the street. So, before my left hand knew what my right hand was doing, I waved him over to me. Sure enough, we had both been looking at one another. He did the “Do you mean ME?” gesture as he slowly looked around. I waved again. On the third wave he got up and began walking across the street. I got up and pulled out the chair across the table and invited him to sit down.
I asked if he was hungry. Of course, he was. I asked the waitress to bring him the exact same meal that I was eating.
I asked his name a few times but never did understand it. He thought that I had said that my name was Familia. How appropriate. He spoke and I could catch little between the noisy street, my poor hearing and my lack of Spanish. I did not feel that my understanding was as important as my listening. I caught the idea that he had headaches and that he could not see out of one eye. I guessed that he had a cataract. He was sixty years old. He had no work. He needed work to eat.
Constantly, he thanked God and thanked me and we reached across the table and held hands many times as he ever so slowly ate his pizza and talked. I believe that he believed that God had literally come down from heaven in the form of me just for him….and I believed that he was God in person.
He wept again.
Mostly he smiled with two front teeth missing. At one point I must have had on my pensive face and that troubled him. He wasn’t happy until I smiled again. THIS WAS EUCHARIST! Plain and simple. Clear and welcoming. It was the first supper. Isn’t that what Eucharist is…Jesus coming down to each one of us, no matter who we are or where we are, or what we did or didn’t do, or if we had a bath or not….in the form of bread. It was a table of welcome and of deep and heart-felt sharing. And our hearts burned within us.
The man finished his pizza and drank the Pepsi. We put the French fries in a paper sack for him to take with him. I wonder who the person was whom he fed.
And he disappeared among the many.
Everyday of life can be an invitation to a deeper relationship we God if
we have the eyes to see.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012