May today there be peace within.May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.May you be content with yourself just the way you are.Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.-Prayer of St. Theresa
It’s always been a challenge to transition back to my life here in the U.S. after a trip to Honduras. When I’m in Honduras, my usual worries fade away. I feel productive contributing to all the projects that we are working on, but also fulfilled by the relationships I build. The things I truly value – friendship, connection, compassion – outpace everything else, like body image and whether I can find free wifi.
I hate to admit it, but I can be cranky when I come back. On the airplane from Atlanta to Louisville, I overheard a women lamenting that she forgot to record her favorite TV show, to which her friend asked, “Don’t you have an app for that?” It took everything in me to hold back what I wanted to say; that if missing your favorite show is the worst thing that happened to you today, then your life is pretty good. There is so much we take for granted in our middle class American lives: being able to flush toilet paper, owning a refrigerator, and having a national postal service.
The thing is, that is not the person I’ve learned to be in Honduras. In Honduras, you are always greeted with a smile and a hand shake or even a hug; people are very friendly. Children who have very little material means are always willing to share what they have; I gave my goddaughter a sweater as a birthday gift, but she also gave me a little toy kitten because it looks like my cat, Catniss. She writes me notes and asks how my husband is doing in school. These same children dare to dream big, and often for the greater good. In the course of interviewing a few dozen children this past trip, I found that many of them, given the chance to be famous, would like to be famous for doing something great for others.
In Honduras, I’ve learned generosity of spirit. So when I get frustrated with “first world problems,” I know that it’s better to understand that I have been given the opportunity to see with a unique perspective. I can be an example of gratitude, and model the values of love and connection over material wealth. The reason that I have to come back from Honduras is so that I can share what I’ve gained with others.