Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Request

I've mentioned in past posts that it is the untaken-photos that haunt me after my trips to Guatemala.

Cathedral alter
There are so many times when our volunteers are bumping along in the back of a pickup truck while trying to stand upright, or walking along a muddy road carrying backpacks, or even when we are visiting with one of our FFF moms, that cameras just are not practical. Letting go of your grip on the wet railing of a pickup truck to get a camera out of a backpack might result in a head injury. Of equal issue is the fact that the lens of a camera is an artificial eye, and the similarity is not lost on the people we come in contact with on our trips. No person wants photos taken of them during difficult moments, and we want to respect the humanity and the vulnerability of the human experience. So I try instead to capture the special moments in my mind, and describe them to you later. 
The baptism of my Godchild at a Guatemalan cathedral a few weeks ago was one of those moments. The event was humble, beautiful and spiritual in a mix of adjectives that seems appropriate for most of my visits to Guatemala.
Man with head injury lighting candle

The mass was heartfelt, the alter boy attentive and handsome and the priest did a wonderful job of hosting the parishioners. There was a sense of presence in the crowd that I often find is missing among Americans during public gatherings. 
Someday I hope to bring a documentary crew with me on one of my trips, and I wished for one on this day. I wanted to capture the priest's mannerisms, his calm voice and his words. His presence, and the palpable need the audience had to feel it.

Priest in Cathedral
He spoke to us in the audience; my friend Kathy and daughter Julie. 
"Are you from America?" he asked. 
When I answered affirmatively, he replied simply:

"Will you pray for the people of our country?"

That was all. A simple, sincere inquiry. I took a quick and discrete photo after all. I didn't want to trust my memory to one of the most important requests I had heard all week. 
And yes father, we will pray.