Sadly, Nicaragua has not received the greatest press these days thanks to the lack of transparency and the assertion of fraud during the recent municipal elections. Our sleepy little fishing village of San Juan del Sur has kept us pretty removed from the rioting and protesting across Managua and Leon that has made headlines as far away as the United States. However, we have seen the concern and discouragement across the faces of the local and Expat communities alike.
Amidst the chaos and turmoil, Justin and I went to a church service in memory of a friend’s mother who recently passed away. I do not pretend to be a religious person by nature or practice, but there is something comforting in the reliability of religious customs across cultures that surpass language barriers. Though I spent very little time in a Catholic church growing up, even I was able to recognize many of the rituals from the sign of peace to the “Word of God” response and many more.
Towards the end of the service, a young girl, dressed to the nines, with a small crystal tiara perched atop her wavy dark hair, approached the altar with, two adults who I later figured to be her parents. In a very public, yet incredibly private moment, the young girl cupped first her mother’s then her father’s face in her hands and began blessing them, between tears of apparent joy. Once complete, both parents returned the gesture by first blessing their daughter and then embracing her. The priest, who I might add, had a near-perfect radio announcers register, oversaw this brief ceremony by uttering words of encouragement to the entire family. Upon completion of the service, I noticed a handful of other young girls, dressed for a party and realized that this was the religious ceremony for the girl’s Quinceañera – the celebration of a young woman’s 15th birthday.
Witnessing this brief, but significant moment in a stranger’s life reminded me of my own family and how thankful I am to love and be so loved by them. As our world struggles with the economy, politics, wars, health, and much more, I encourage all to pause for a moment to remember those things for which we are thankful.