Last night while Bernie and I ate dinner, we noted another party gathering around the pool area. So far we have witnesses a wedding reception and a baby shower. This party had the most amazing table decorations, large colorful masks of happy faces. The chairs were covered with sheets and gold ribbon. The teen girls in attendance all wore blue dresses and the boys blue ties. We asked at the desk and found that this was a Quinceanos, a fifteenth birthday celebration. We remembered this tradition from our experience supporting a girl, Paula, through Common Hope in Guatamala. It is much like our sweet sixteen celebrations, or for the elite, “coming out” galas, here in the US. In our family, sixteen was the year our girls could have their first boy/girl party and the age dating one-on-one could commence, supposedly. As we ate, we enjoyed watching the young people dance their hearts out before the old folks, us, got too tired and went to bed. Shortly after we turned our lights out, we heard the sounds of a drumline. Now, mind you, realize that there was a time in our family when all four of our kids marched in a band, the Green Berets of Janesville Wisconsin. It was a family affair. Bernie was on the board and one of the bus drivers. I was the chaperone the kids dreaded because I wasn’t afraid to separate the boys and the girls when deemed necessary. The band spent the summers traveling all over the Wisconsin and northern Illinois marching in small town parades. One year, our daughter Becky was the majorette, Chris played snare, Kate twirled a rifle, and Heidi was the adorable mascot, mimicking her oldest sister in the lead. So here we were in Costa Rica, listening to the familiar cadence of a drumline. We lay there for a while in the dark. Finally, I said, “Do you want to go?” “Yes,” Bernie said. So we got up, dressed, and went down to the pool area to watch the fun. The teens were going crazy excited, dancing wildly to the beat of the drums. The drummers were accompanied by girls wearing colorful flags like the wings of angels. The father of the girl being honored took notice of Bernie and I watching and moving a bit to the beat. He approached us and gave us candy as a welcoming gesture. I regretted the language barrier. We would have loved to tell him about our kids and inquire about his family. It was great fun. We marched out with the band and applauded them as they piled into their van.
Today we go to Upeace. This morning I read in my book, “What is a Pilgrim?” Here is what Peace Pilgrim has to say:
* A pilgrim’s job is to rouse people from apathy and make them think.
* A pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose.
* A pilgrim walks prayerfully, and a pilgrim walks as an opportunity to come in contact with people.
* A pilgrim is one who promotes peace by helping others find inner peace.
As we wait for our driver, I am thinking about so many of my peace heroes: Peace Pilgrom, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Heschel, Mother Theresa, Frances of Assissi, Jesus, George Fox, Thomas Merton, Bill Willson.
Upeace was wonderul. I was thrilled to stand next to the statue of Peace Pilgrim and have my picture taken. Bernie thought I would cry, but I was busy telling our tour guide about her. In hind sight, I wish we had stayed for lunch. We could have talked with some of the students. I will record later what we saw, but here is Peace’s motto, inscribed on her memorial statue: “This is the way of peace – overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.” What a gal!