“You are walking with God,” Monica said to our immersion group as we visited her house in Mt. Sinai. Mt. Sinai is an invation community outside Duran, Ecuador. It is one of the areas people came to build houses withour legal rights—just putting a stick on soil means building in Ecuador to claim its owership. There is no electrity and running water in Mt. Sinai. They have to wait for an agua truck to buy water and schools are far away. The government recently paved one major road that goes through the community. Monica has five children—three with Andy and two from the previous marriage. When Jeff a volunteer of Rostro de Cristo informed her that one of the visitors was a priest, she didn’t believe it. So as I introduced myself, her eyes lit up. She couldn’t believe a priest was in her house. She talked to the group, “If you have a priest, it is like you are walking with God.”
I was amazed at her simplicity, faith and love for her family. Her daily struggles were obvious in feeding the family day after day, being worried about her children’s increased tuition that was less than $50 a month. Her husband has a skill in welding, but there are no jobs available, so he does whatever to support the family. Despite the suffering, however, she was grateful for what God had done for the family. The children were jovial and the family had a rough place to lay down and food and water.
“Blessed are those who are poor in spirit,” Jesus said. I believed for a while ‘being poor in spirit’ was nothing to do with ‘literally being being poor in daily life.’ Being poor in spirit seemed to me our poverty in need of God. It didn’t mean that being poor in eating, sleeping, and living everyday. But, I have come to understand that being poor in spirit contains both being poor in spirt and materials. Because of poverty in spirit and real life, people find gratitude in small things like Monica. She was grateful for the small house, daily food and water, and health of the family.
If someone starts seeing God in small things, she becomes able to see God in all things. As Monica said, “You are walking with God,” it is not just about recognizing a priest in her house but about her faith that sees God in all. She sees God, grows with God, becomes God. Becoming God, that is, divinization, is the lost tradition in the church. The Eastern church still emphasizes that humans are called to be God because they are created in the image of God. If we are called to be God’s sons and daughters, why don’t we grow to be God for ourselves, others and God our Father? Would God be proud of the sons and daughers who become like the Father? Monica shows that finding God in all people and all things is real.
At the end of our conversation, Monica asked if I could bless her house. I had nothing to conduct the ritual, but I said, “Sure.” She poured water to a mug and brought it to me. I invited the family standing in the middle of the circle of our group. Invoking the Holy Spirit, I reminded all of our baptism of water that purified and gave us new life, the water that baptized Jesus himself, the water that blesses and reminds us of our birth from the water of the mothers, the water that quenches our thirst for God and others. The church sitting on the mountain at Mt. Sinai is called “The Baptism of Jesus” because God gives us water to renew us. As I made the signs of the cross on the foreheads of each of the family members, suddenly, I heard sound of raining. It seemed that God also blesses us as it washes the dusty and dry Mt. Sinai. Tears came out of Monica’s eyes. The water of baptism and blessing, the raining and tears, all revealed the presence of God who came to stay with us as one of us. We got tears and trembled of the divine presence.