Saturday, August 10, 2019


Ninety-nine percent of my belongings are packed away now, ready for the 4,000-mile journey ahead. Cochabamba to La Paz to Bogotá to New York. Only about eight hours and a few more tasks to fulfill before going to the airport to begin the day-long transit back to New York. Twenty-two hours? That’s nothing anymore. When you’ve had as many sleepless nights as I have had here, the diversions of an airport terminal actually look pretty good now. And it breaks down pretty evenly: 11 hours in the air, 11 hours of layover at the La Paz and Bogotá airports. Provided my aches and pains don’t suddenly get worse in the high altitude of La Paz, the travel should be a welcome diversion. 

I went to the post office this morning with Brother Leo to see what was waiting in Casilla 68. You know you’ve been someplace too long when the junk mail catches up with you. But catch up with me it did—and Boston University, my alma mater, is the culprit! Specifically, it was the university development office, with a postcard trying to lure me to alumni weekend—as if touting the biggest weekend ever appeals to everyone—and a bulletin on its fundraising campaigns. Sorry, folks—you’re tapping the wrong tree. Fortunately, I also received the magazine of Boston University School of Theology. That is not junk. The rest of it was real personal mail. I believe that everything everyone said they sent me is in my possession now. And all of it is going back to the States with me. Thank you for sharing yourself with me through your correspondences.

Brother Leo will also bring me to the airport this evening. He has done absolutely everything I have ever asked him. I vote that we make our Franciscan cousin an honorary Capuchin. 

As for my health, I am moving forward gingerly. I have been so cautious about eating, although the runs stopped on Wednesday. I will have a little lunch and a little dinner before I go to the airport. One does not live on liquids and soda crackers alone. I’ll tidy up Room 4, my inner sanctuary for six months, a little more, including the bathroom and bed. 

Am I ready to go? As sure as I’m born. But it won’t feel real until I board the flight from La Paz to Bogotá and leave the country. 

Am I ready to go? I took a walk through the cloister garden this morning. I stopped over at the fountain in the center. For a few days, the pool has been empty. The brothers have drained it and moved the fish into a tub receiving aeration. I take this as a sign. When I arrived here the cloister garden was full, lush, even overgrown. Everything was vivid. Lots of flowers. Trees bearing fruit. And the fountain was flowing. It was summer. Now it is winter, and the garden has been pruned back considerably, the flowers are gone except on the trellises, the trees and bushes are much shorter and bare of fruit. The grass is still green, but patches of brown have outed themselves. Everything is dry, so dry. Finally, the fountain had to go dry. Rather much like the condition of my spirit at this late hour. Things change. They grow for a while, then they retreat until the cycle turns again. 

There is a time and a season for everything under heaven. 

With these words ends the last post to be written from Bolivia. This book is almost closed. I will post to confirm that I am safely in New York. Whether I post one final entry after that to wrap up this blog about my immersion experience, I don’t know. It may not be fitting to have a summary statement for a form of writing that is episodic by nature. A blog is a blog, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment