It was a hot and dusty afternoon and we were walking back to San Carlos from our catechism classes at the Guadalupe Nuevo Elementary School when we noticed a young girl, rather shy but also rather forward enthusiastically waving at us like we were old friends. “Hi, Brothers!” she was shouting out to us. I was the first to approach her and that is how I met Ruth. An entirely chance encounter, pure serendipity. Unplanned for and totally unexpected. And after all these years, my friendship with Ruth has been the source of many of my greatest joys. I have learned never to underestimate the power in small things and small gestures. I have been blessed with people who have done small things for me that have had a major impact on my life. I am humbled when people thank me for something I don’t even sometimes remember having done for them. God might awe us with his presence in storms and thunder or in the grandeur and magnitude of nature. But I also sense his presence in the gentle breeze, a single flower, in a touch, a caress.
These days, Anabelle and I love visiting and seeing old friends. Our conversations would often span many many years and we’d talk about or common friends and the communities or groups we have shared and served. I realize that as much as we need food and sustenance, we also need stories and memories for our life journey. So we share stories and events about our lives, the memories and moments we have stored, the people and places we have visited, the insights and lessons we have learned, the inspirations and visions that have driven us. We shared these in stories and not in some abstract mathematical formulas or obtuse principles. Some funny, others sad, still others just plain telling what we have been through. Indeed, the parables of our lives. I also learned that even when just by myself, I never travel alone. I carry with me the lives and stories of all the people I have met along the journey who have touched my life.