Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back from retreat

I’ve been intending to go on retreat since September and finally pulled it off.

A retreat is a time apart from our ordinary endeavors, a time for quiet, a time to let God renew us.

I had asked a US Jesuit priest whom I’d met in September 2011 if I could come to his parish in Bonito Oriental, Colon, on the northern coast. I met him when I facilitated a retreat for some volunteers at the parish center. He’s been in Honduras since 1977.

I left last Sunday and drove about nine hours to get there. It’s the dry season here and it was really hot in Colon and all along the north coast. But what surprised and delighted me were the beautiful colors of flowering trees – yellow, peach, pink, red.

There are large plantations of African palm on the north coast. It is disconcerting driving through them and seeing the trees planted in rows that seem to stretch to infinity. What is even more disconcerting is seeing the remnants of trees which have died, rising above the newly planted trees. They seem like acres of columns of Roman ruins.

The zone, especially in Colon in the Aguan Valley is very conflictive because much of the land has been taken over by the Dinant Corportation, owned by Miguel Facussé. Many of the poor claim that the land was taken fraudulently and some have tried to retake their lands. There have been scores of deaths. It’s a human rights nightmare.

It is also a conflicted area because of the presence of drug-trafficking. Someone told me that a few days ago scores of landing fields were blown up. Someone also pointed out several homes of drug traffickers in the region and related horror stories of violence among the drug traffickers.

But I got to Bonito Oriental safely and spent a lot of time in quiet, taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as my guide. I found a nearby small cemetery where I could pray and read in the quiet and relative freshness. Several nights I accompanied the priest to Mass in various towns.

San José cemetary

It was a good time apart, though it was incredibly hot most of the time there and I’m exhausted from the drive back yesterday.

Now I’m ready to get back to my ministry here – with a renewed sense of mission.

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