Dora’s Invitation: Hospitality in Santa Emilia

One Minister’s Musings

April 7, 2011

Monday of the trip:

I was walking back from an afternoon of interacting with school children and learning from the leadership of Santa Emilia about their vision for education in the village. My brain was busy sorting through the ideas shared, the enthusiasm of a poor community about the possibilities of continued growth and the memories of the faces of many children staring into the strange faces of North Americans.

Meandering and musing, I walked. And then, in front of me, along the side of the road, I saw red and white flowers cascading over a simple wire fence. The beauty stopped me in my steps. I paused with shear delight. This archway of flora called with an invitation to not only enjoy but to take a picture to share with others. I pulled the camera out of my bag and was disappointed to find its battery dead from the exuberant picture taking earlier in the day.

Peter stopped to assist me. As we continued admiring the flowers, we eyed an even more beautiful flower further inside the fence. Its reds and oranges radiated with color against the green. We were pointing and wondering aloud about its nature, when we were greeted by a woman dressed in red similar to the flowers around her. She was standing inside the fence surrounded by the flowering landscape. From inside the fence, she smiled warmly and beckoned us to come inside. She was speaking in Spanish and my simple “Buenos Dias” was of little use. Yet she spoke graciously to me pointing to the various plants speaking with pride and joy.

She followed my eyes to the one flower that I had seen.  Immediately, she unexpectedly reached for it and pulled it from the stem, handing it to me with delight.  Her eyes shown with pride.  Her smile invited friendship and connection.  Peter came closer and took pictures as I held the flower in my hands, gently embracing a grand treasure.

With sign language, laughter, and gratitude I learned that her name was Dora.  “Me llamo Elena” I stumbled through. “Me llamo Dora.”

By this time the rest of the people from St. Andrew’s gathered with us and Dora grew taller with pride for her gardens and these foreign visitors that stood with its walls.

Then Dora did a curious thing.  She beckoned us to come further inside and to follow her.  She led us from plant to plant, from simple hut to simple hut.  And along the way, Dora pointed to roses and many other flowers that were scattered about in pots.  She led us through tall grasses, palm trees and guided us along a path.

But a way to where?  After about a 5 minute walk, she pointed to an opening in the undergrowth, to a small bridge across a simple stream and to the road ahead.  She had led us through a short cut to the road to our lodging.  And then with a smile of invitation, she invited us to use the path at anytime to get to the other side quickly.  She bid us “adios” and we were on our way.  She disappeared among the flowers, blending in as if she were a flower herself.

Dora invited us to bridge the world the between us with the simple ease of openness, gestures of grace and the guiding presence of warmth.  She was one of the gifts of this trip to Nicaragua, for Dora came to symbolize the gracious hospitality and invitation to walk through their generous “short cuts” to find our own road on the other side.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Gently,

Pr. Elaine