A moment in Jocotal.

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I gathered up my pile of books and papers from the kitchen table to make the descent from the main house down to my room in the grandmother’s house down the hill. I needed to work on my paper and get some silencio. I stepped up on the porch and said hello to Eliodora, a fragile and tiny old woman visiting the family for a few days.

“Buenas tardes, Tia. ¿Cómo está?”

With that prompt, she proceeded to tell me about the visits she made that day. I stood in the doorway of my room with my arms full of books as I listened to her accounts of her family, her friends, and her life before old age set in. When I realized I wasn’t going to be working on my paper any time soon, I sat my junk on my bed and leaned against the porch rail to listen. Her bony arm rested on the worn out, oversized red Bible on her lap.

“What have you been reading today, Tía?”

She showed me the creation story and explained it to me with the same energy as if she had just read it for the first time that afternoon.

“I have a Bible with big letters so I can read it better. Mis ojos me cuestan mucho,” she said.

She showed me the section in Luke she finished this morning.
Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.

An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe slipped from the page and fluttered to the ground. I hurried to pick it up and she said, “Ah tranquila mi amor. It’s just a picture.”

We sat in silence as I remembered the pile of homework sitting on my bed. I tried to think of a way to excuse myself when Eliodora burst out, “Oh I just love the countryside! Listen to all those birds. Do you hear that one singing like that? That’s the national bird of Costa Rica.”

I listened and suddenly the sounds of my surroundings flooded my ears, replacing the list of things to do I had been making. I could hear the bees above us humming, the faint rush of the river in the distance. A bird let out a song in the tree to our right. Nature was composing a symphony for us, and I nearly missed it.

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