With renewed vigor after two months off and the inspiration of children…
A couple of observations from the streets of Panamá.
The first observation is about the excitement of young children and how wonderful it is. The other day, I was walking to my barber shop, and a huge dump truck was bellowing its way down a crowded street next to me. It was huffing and puffing in its many forced stops and advances amidst the traffic of much smaller vehicles. It was a big white truck and surprisingly white (the cab was not dirty) for a dump truck. Its engine roared with each advance, and its brakes sounded like amplified violins tuning up before a concert.
To my right, coming out of a door, was a little girl and her tall father. She was so excited to see the marvel of the truck passing right before her. She raised her arm, pointing at the truck to ensure her father did not miss the excitement. He noticed and shared equally in his daughter’s delight as he gave her the word to describe what she was seeing, “Camión! (truck!)”
Their excitement caught me and lifted me high up to a kind of joyful ecstasy. What surprised me was that I was not observing their lives or paying attention to the truck. Nor was I living vicariously through them. I think I was actually sharing their lives. Days later, I can still hear and see the white truck, the little girl and her father, and the way he joyfully proclaimed as if gospel, “Camión!”
The second observation came from Mass at the National Sanctuary of Panama. Most people were silently praying on their knees or seated during the Communion Rite. From nowhere came a little girl calmly walking alone but obviously looking for mama. She caught everyone’s eye, momentarily focused on such cuteness.
She walked serenely, and I emphasize serenely because that is my point in this story, down the middle aisle where she saw her mother coming toward the center aisle in a row of pews, waving to ensure that the little girl saw her. She did, and we all turned back to prayer, or might I say we all continued in prayer, having been newly inspired. After all, had we not all witnessed a joyful reunion, a sacramental encounter akin to Sacramental Union at a Catholic Mass?
I took from this brief experience that the little girl did not seem to suffer anxiety. She did not appear to be frightened as she looked for her mother. On the contrary, she seemed to be much at home in her church, where she instinctively knew she was with family. She knew her environment clearly: long aisles, long pews, people, statues, and colored windows. Her church was not spooky to her. I was happy for her because she knew where she was and that her mother was somewhere in an enormous room among the family.