My heart longs for my island and its people. The images are tough to assimilate so, every day, I turn my longing into fervent prayers. This poem I wrote so long ago is about my patria (my homeland) and the love in my heart for the jíbaro in the mountains, inland, where they live surrounded by the beauty of God's creation yet, at times, lacking luxuries of modern life like cement roofs and walls. This, of course, makes them more vulnerable to the destruction brought on by hurricanes.
The jíbaro is the backbone of our culture and the birthplace of island hospitality. They are beautiful and kind, always giving cheerfully of what little they have ... and now they desperately need us to be generous to them. I know they continue to work tirelessly every day to restore the land, try to salvage crops, and (especially) to help and support their neighbors, regardless of the cost. I am so thankful for the outpouring of generosity and good will toward the people of Puerto Rico, and I pray it continues until every need is met.
Here is my simple poem of love for the kindness, generosity, and simplicity of every jibarito who stole my heart years ago, and taught me that joy and contentment are birthed by giving...
Es mi patria
Es mi gente
A ellos extraño
cuando estoy lejos
y nunca he vivido
|Photo credit Héctor M Semidey (photo of his drawing in pencil, ©1998)|
As we all continue to process the ongoing events in Puerto Rico, the message of hope in this short sermon helps comfort the heart and settle the soul. May it help us all as we continue to do what we can in the midst of this tragedy, for we know and trust that "God weaves goodness into every story" (Fr. Russell).
For more messages of hope, go to Thanksgiving Musings: Love Wins and Hope for Today: Inherit the Promise.
* Borinquen is the name the native Taíno Indians gave the island of Puerto Rico. It means "Land of the Valiant Lord."
Overflow from the damaged Guajataca River Dam in San Sebastián on Sept. 23, 2017, following passage of Hurricane María. (Credit: Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images)
Translation of my teenage poem
is a treasure,
a bright star,
And my people,
It is them I miss
though I've not lived
I always lived in the city in Puerto Rico, though my heart belongs inland. I love you, jibarito!
May God bless you and keep you.