Think of all the people you encounter in your life: the cashier at McDonald’s, the driver turning left at the intersection, the pilot at the helm of a jet ultimately flying to a country with limitless expectations. How many of those people do you remember? How many of those people truly shaped your life forever? Probably not many. Yet, some truly are amazing, and will forever exist in memory and meaning. Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.
I truly believe that brotherhood is what makes us human. Guatemala has given me an everlasting brotherhood with the people of Patanatic and the medical team. Time passes and it tells us what we are left with; we become the things we strive to be. To Dr. Richard, Dr. Lauri, Nurse Cathy, and Nurse Bonnie, it goes without saying how amazing you are. It truly was an honor and a privilege to have been able to work with you; but, it is a greater honor to have met you and to have formed an everlasting friendship. To my group members, JD, Christian, Mouhamed, David, Lia, Annie, Anna, Micayla, Mary, Jen, and Megan, I am so glad to have shared this experience with you. You are great people and even better friends. I just hope we never lose the friendship. To Carmen, who kept everything together, your presence made everyone smile, and your lighthearted nature could light up a room. And most importantly, to Rabbi, without you none of this would be possible. Whether it was the pit stop botany lectures or the story of how you met John Lennon, I cannot express how great a person you are. Thank you for this opportunity, thank you for Shabbat dinner, thank you for being you.
I have searched for God all my life. Even as a child I looked up at the stars to see if I could find God among them. But, most men go fishing all their lives only to find it isn’t fish they are after. On our first day of house visits, the last patient pulled at my heart strings. She was frail, poking her head out of the door to let us in and barely able to stand. She had to sit half way through the examination, and put her head in her hand because her pain was unbearable. I felt it. But, when we asked her if she wanted to take a picture, she jumped out of her seat, fixed her hair, her scarf, her dress, and took a picture with Dr. Richard. She called him her boyfriend, and said God sent us. What does one say to that? How many people can make you feel extraordinary? I’ll never forget that moment, that lady. Maybe God sent her for us. Two days later a little girl came to the clinic. I wasn’t feeling well that day so I decided to sit out in the courtyard for a while. As I was walking out of the clinic, she rushed up to me and said I was tall. I smiled and said I suppose so. Then I sat down, and she sat down next to me, holding and tugging at my pant leg. I pulled out a little bottle of bubbles and we blew bubbles out in the courtyard. No medicine could have helped me like she did that afternoon. The innocence, the playfulness, the simplicity, they made me think of my youngest brother. We are funny creatures. We don't see the stars as they are, so why do we love them? They are not small gold objects, but endless fire. Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.
I went to Guatemala because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it has to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I learned this, at least, by my travels: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more truth-filled laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more copious sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, poverty not poverty, weakness not weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
My only hope is that people reading this understand the power of the human spirit. A new day is dawning. The sun is a morning star heralding a new life to come.