Bearing Good Fruit in Times of Uncertainty

This lockdown and social distancing got to me today.

I woke up fine, but then I went outside and saw that the sun was out and it was a beautiful, sunny day unlike the last few days that have been overcast.  I stepped outside my house to the garden and looked around and I began to feel sad.  Sad because I wish there was a cure for the coronavirus right now.  Sad because the number of people dead due to the coronavirus continues to rise every day.

I felt uneasy and sad so I went back inside and went to my special place where I talk to God.  Right outside the window of my room there is a tree, which gives out a beautiful, white three-leaf flower around Easter time and it makes the tree look so elegant when is all dressed in white flowers.

I talked to God and told him how I felt; but this time instead of asking Him, “why is this happening?” I thanked Him.  I thanked Him for the sun and the beautiful day that He gave us today, I thanked Him for my health and for my family.

Daffodils are some of the first flowers to come out in the Spring in Virginia.
a white daffodil – Narcissus pseudonarcissus

I asked Him to reveal to me what is it that I am supposed to learn from this situation and to show me how to use these feelings to bear good fruit.  For the ones that get to stay home, including myself, it is also frustrating not being able to help and do something for all the people who are sick with the coronavirus.  We want to do something, help in some way!

I closed my eyes and while meditating I stood still while looking at that tree outside my window and realized that the little sprouts that had been dormant during the winter are beginning to open up.  The tree is beginning to bloom! I looked up and saw that the tall trees, which almost touch the sky were already green and beginning to bloom as well.  With all the news of the coronavirus, my mind had been occupied and distracted and I hadn’t been paying close attention to the fact that Spring has arrived.

Sprouts are beginning to open up in preparation for Spring.

God said to me, “Don’t feel bad for feeling this way, you are supposed to feel this way.  This means that you are paying attention to me and the fact that you feel this way is proof that you are not selfish.  I want ALL my children to feel this way because this is what will move you away from your own selfishness towards what I want you to do for other people: Love them unconditionally the way Jesus loved on this earth.”

I opened my eyes and God showed me how just like that little sprout is slowly beginning to wake up and open up so that a flower can bloom, my own heart is beginning to do the same towards humanity.  God made me realize that He is doing something in my heart, something good.  Suddenly, my eyes began to see how every tree which was barren and naked from winter is now sprouting green leaves and flowers.  Everything He touches bears fruit.  If He was to say right now to that tree, “Wither and die” it would be so in that instant.  God can reveal so much about Himself through nature because He made it.

God spoke to me and told me to go bear fruit in the same way that tree and every other tree is bearing fruit right now.  I still don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to go do with my gifts right now, but I know He will reveal it to me soon.

the first sprouts of stargazer lilies

Just because we are staying at home, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything for the people who are fighting coronavirus right now.  Or that what we do is not as important as what the first responders are doing right now.

As a believer in Christ who is at home on lockdown because of the epidemic, we can pray not just individually but collectively with another group of people.  We believers know the power of prayer when is done collectively and when we are all in agreement on the same thing.  Prayer can be done through social media using video calling or through the phone.

the first flowers announcing Spring has arrived

We can use our gifts and talents to encourage other people who need strength right now.  We can write, draw, make someone laugh, create something that brings a smile or encouragement to someone in need right now.  We can share our resources, time, our money to anyone who is struggling these moments.  Even if it’s just a phone call to see how they’re doing, a video call to check on them, or a video shared on social media thanking those doctors, nurses, first responders who are out there working hard without a break.

We all have something to give and if you can’t think of something, ask God to show you and He will show you what you can do!

We believers have the opportunity right now to share the Gospel and put into practice all the things that we profess.

daffodils or Narcissus symbolize rebirth and new beginnings.

God is not too far from us; He will reveal Himself to us if we ask Him to do so.

“The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

(1 Kings 19:11,12)

This is a time of change, a time of new beginnings.

2/24 Tribute to Kobe and Gianna

I have been personally touched by Kobe and Gianna’s loss and wanted to honor their memory by writing a special post in my personal blog.

I am not a big fan of basketball, but if I had to choose a sport to watch, basketball would be it without hesitation.

I was debating about writing this post.  I wanted my blog to just focus on my personal experiences growing up in Mexico and how I adjusted living in the U.S. after I moved here.  When I heard the news of Kobe and Gianna’s helicopter crash that Sunday morning, I was shocked and, as the days and weeks went by, I thought I was just going to put this news aside like other celebrities’ news that pass away unexpectedly.  However, I soon realized this was going to be different and would be something I could share as part of my blog.

I was never a sports player, but I do remember that as a freshman in high school I tried for the basketball team.  At first it was fun doing all those new warm-up exercises with a team of other girls.  However, just learning how to play basketball for the first time as a fifteen-year old freshman in high school was difficult for me.  I knew then basketball wasn’t for me and didn’t continue playing after that first semester.

The great lesson I learned from this experience is that you have to try new things, you have to push yourself to new challenges and at least be able to say that you tried and did your best.

The news of Kobe and Gianna’s loss brought back these highs school memories and struck a chord within me.  Perhaps the reason why it has impacted me so much, even though I didn’t know him personally, is because I am also a parent.  I’m a mother of a beautiful nine-year old who reminds me of Gianna.  Thinking about that makes me ponder about my own daughter –her dreams, her aspirations, how she seems me, and how I see her, as well.

Perhaps one reason why Kobe and Gianna’s story has touched many people is because it reminds those of us who are parents of our own kids.  Kobe was, when all is set and done, just a father who wanted to help his daughter live her dream.

Every time I hear about Gigi and her dream of becoming a basketball player one day, I am brought to tears.  The notion of the dreams that never came to be gets me every time.  Gigi had her eyes and hopes set high; she was ready to go and be a star like her Dad.

Today, I tuned into the Los Angeles Lakers YouTube channel to watch Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s Celebration of Life and it was really emotional.  The one speech that really touched me was Vanessa Bryant’s tribute to her daughter and husband.  When I hear all the wonderful things that her daughter did for her, her personality, and the little things she did to make her mom smile, it makes me cry.  Vanessa said her daughter was kind, thoughtful, and loving; three qualities that my own daughter also exemplifies.  She said of her daughter that her motto was, “there is no act of kindness that is too small to make a difference in someone’s life.”

I think about Gianna and my own daughter and it makes me think of how important it is to develop a deeper relationship with my own daughter; by spending quality time with her and sharing a passion with her.  Like Kobe did with Gigi.

Kobe and Gianna have inspired me to better my relationship with my own daughter.  I want to be more patient, kinder and more compassionate with her.  But most importantly, I want to spend more quality time with my daughter and I thought of the perfect way to do that starting right now: running.

My daughter and I both enjoy running.  We started running last year, but stopped once school ended before summer.

I believe sharing a common passion with my daughter will help us bond and running is something that we both enjoy and have fun doing.

If Kobe could share a word of wisdom with all of us right now, what would he say to us parents about our relationship with our daughters? I think he would say that we need to be grateful for each moment we have with our children, to spend time with them, and be an involved parent.  I think he would say we need to be interested in the things that our children are passionate about and share that passion with them.

I look at my own daughter and I feel grateful and blessed to be able to hug her right now and show her how much I love her.  I know I was inspired by Kobe’s relationship with his daughter to get out there and do more with my own daughters.  There are many things that I am passionate about that I want to share with them.

Kobe and Gianna, your memory will live with us forever.  You have truly inspired us! May all of you, including the other parents and daughters who were in that fateful helicopter ride, rest in peace.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant – I imagine them looking down at us like this from Heaven.

 

A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí

This last Christmas I went to Mexico to spend the holidays with distant relatives.  Last time I saw my relatives was five years ago, and the last time I spent a Christmas in Mexico was twenty-one years ago.  I am originally from San Luis Potosi, a city located in central Mexico, where I spend this last Christmas.  I wanted my family to experience Christmas in Mexico for the first time.

Christmas in Mexico is very different than in the United States.  In Mexico, las Posadas is an integral part of the Christmas celebrations.  The tradition of Las Posadas comes from Spain and it was brought to Mexico and other Latin American countries by the Catholic Church.  For 400 years, starting in 1586, Mexicans have celebrated las Posadas in December.  Other countries in Latin America and in the U.S., in communities where Spanish cultural influence remains strong, las Posadas is also part of their cultural Christmas tradition.  Most of these celebrations take place in the Southwest; in states like New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California.

Las Posadas celebrations in Mexico vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and city to city.  Cities, which tend to be more populated and where people are more influenced by American culture, tend to have their own variations of las Posadas.  Their celebrations may include prayers and a piñata, followed by dinner.  The Mexican state of San Luis Potosi is divided into Municipios or municipalities.  Some of the municipios, specifically those located in more rural areas, celebrate las Posadas in a more traditional way.  Their prayers are longer and more involved.  A traditional Posada includes a reenactment of the Nativity story, followed by a dinner, and breaking a piñata.

During our visit this year, my relatives and I organized a simple celebration for the children on Christmas Day.  The day before Christmas, my aunt and I went to Mercado República, a very famous food market close to the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosi, to buy food and other things for the celebration.  Most people go there to purchase food and gifts for las Posadas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Mercado República is a famous food market in San Luis Potosi.

It was really nice to be back to this market as it reminded me of my childhood days, back when I lived in Mexico.  I took my daughter with me and we walked around the many long isles of decorative, festive piñatas, hand-made art crafts, fresh fruit and vegetables, food stands selling freshly made tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, pozole, menudo, and other popular Mexican dishes.

This food market is so big that it would take a whole day to see every isle.  It is usually visited with friends or family members who plan to go shopping and eat at the food stands available there.  The food is delicious and there are usually more than two food stands selling the same dish, but each with their own flavor twist.

This mercado or food market has been around for decades.  Despite the fast growth of commercial businesses opening in this city, including many American franchises such as Walmart, Mercado República continues being part of San Luis Potosi’s cultural tradition.  Although the majority of people who visit and shop at Mercado República are working class, many people from different social status come here to purchase the items such as hand-made art crafts and hard to find ingredients that cannot be found anywhere else such as certain spices or fresh herbs needed for some Mexican dishes.

Tejocote is one of the many ingredients found at Mercado República

We walked around the mercado and I spotted a ceiling full of colorful piñatas –some with five, seven and even nine points.  I chose a seven-pointed star piñata for our night’s festivities.  My aunt tries to find pinguica or pointleaf manzanita, a type of shrub needed for her nacimiento or nativity scene.  Many households set up nativity scenes on Christmas in addition to the popular Christmas tree.  Homes decorate their nativity scene in different ways; some like to set up a small nativity scene right next to their Christmas tree, while others like to set up a large one in their living room or a part of the house where it can be seen.

a ceiling full of colorful piñatas
Breaking a seven-pointed star piñata at las Posadas is a cultural tradition in Mexico.
A Christmas tree decorated with colorful piñatas at Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosi.
Nativity scenes are set up during Christmas season in Mexico

We also bought velitas or small candles for the children as part of las Posada celebrations.  The candles are used to pray during the novenas, a series of prayers and songs performed at las Posadas.

After praying the novenas and singing villancicos or traditional Christmas songs we were ready to break the piñata.  According to Catholic tradition, the seven-pointed star represents the seven capital sins in Catholic religion while the nine-pointed star piñata represents the nine months the Virgin Mary was pregnant.  Spanish priests used the breaking of the piñata as a method to teach indigenous people in Mexico biblical concepts, such as the seven deadly sins during their evangelization.

Children take turns hitting the piñata at the end of a traditional song, which includes this lyrics, “dale, dale, dale no pierdas el tino porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino” – “go, go, go don’t lose sight of it, if you do you will lose the path!”

Each child has a turn until someone breaks the piñata and all the candy and fruit falls to the ground!  Many years ago, piñatas were made of decorated clay jars.  Today, they have evolved: the inside or the main body of the piñata is made of cardboard and newspaper.  I do miss the old piñatas made of clay jars because they were harder to break and allowed more people to take a turn.  However, the new ones are lighter and therefore less likely to hurt the children when the pieces fall to the ground.

After breaking the piñata, a delicious dinner follows with tamales, ponche, atole, and other favorite Christmas dishes.

All the children present enjoyed la Posada, and I enjoyed it along with them.  It reminded me of las Posadas from my childhood.  It’s been twenty-one years since I spent a Christmas in Mexico.  I had forgotten what it was like to look forward to Christmas as little kids do.  I feel grateful to be able to relieve this part of my childhood with my own children.  This Christmas was very special and I will treasure it for years to come.

A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí.

A Stroll on Calzada de Guadalupe on Christmas Day

I have a beautiful image in my mind, a warm recollection of one my fondest Christmas memories from Mexico.  In 1998, I went back to visit my relatives in San Luis Potosi, where I am originally from.  This would be the only Christmas I got to spend in Mexico in the twenty-five years since my family and I moved to the U.S.

At that time, not much had changed in the four years since I had left Mexico.  Sure, my cousins and relatives had grown a bit older, but in most regards, they were still the same.  The neighborhood where I grew up was the same as well.  My old neighbors were also still there.  However, and most importantly, my grandmother was still in good health.  I was happy during this Christmas; I saw everyone and took a picture with all the people I wanted to see.

I spent that Christmas Eve with my relatives from Mexico. However, the next day, I made a long journey, accompanied by one of my cousins, to visit one of our aunts, who lived near the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosi.  She was my favorite aunt.  Sadly, she has passed away since.  I still remember this nice stroll, walking around with one of my favorite cousins from my childhood.  We visited churches, historic monuments, landmarks.  We wandered the same old streets that watched me grow in San Luis Potosi taking pictures of the area at night.

Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Luis Potosi.
Santuario Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe at night.

I am very fond of the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosi, because it is the place where I grew up.  It’s where I see myself as a little girl with many of my relatives, including my Mom, in our family pictures.  This is why I find myself coming back here every time I visit Mexico.

The pictures shown here are from that Christmas evening, when my cousin and I strolled around Historic Downtown after visiting our aunt.  We must’ve talked a lot during those hours because the journey was long.

Looking back at the pictures from that evening, it is interesting to see what I thought was picture perfect: I took pictures of the churches, cathedrals, historic monuments, landmarks and of course, a picture of my cousin and I at Calzada de Guadalupe; one of the most famous and oldest streets in San Luis Potosi.

Taking a stroll at Calzada de Guadalupe in in San Luis Potosi.
Caja de Agua at night
Reloj Monumental at Jardín Colón

As we neared the end of our journey, heading back to our grandmother’s house, something caught our eye and we stopped.  It was a beautiful, gigantic Nativity scene in the middle of Plaza Fundadores in Historic Downtown.  The city of SLP had decorated all the streets in preparation for Christmas season.  And a Nativity scene was a view I dared not miss as part of my Christmas visit to SLP

Now, after 25 years, I am getting ready to once again visit my relatives and celebrate the Christmas season in Mexico.  As I close bags and ready my passport, I pondered on all the great changes in the lives of my relatives from then to now.  I reflect how my city has grown and changed a lot.  Above all, I brace myself for the space left by those important members of my family who won’t be there waiting for me this time around: my dear grandmother and favorite aunt.

Deep down, and though I treasure all those memories of the Christmas past, I know that this is a time to create new memories, reconcile with the things that I cannot change, and make peace with my past.

Nativity Scene at Plaza de los Fundadores in Historic Downtown.

Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí

Today is a very special day in Mexico.  The whole country dresses in vivid colors of red, blue, yellow, pink, green, even black and white.  The smell of copal is everywhere in the mercado —the open-air markets found in many cities throughout Mexico—along with the sweet smell of candied camote and calabaza or crystalized sweet potato with pumpkin.  The fragrant smell of the flor de cempasúchil and flor de terciopelo, combined with the sweet smell of the food coming from street vendors, is just one of a kind.

This time of the year, I miss Mexico the most.  Although I enjoy the changing of seasons in the East Coast and Midwest, and the festivities that come with it, spending Día de los Muertos in Mexico is a very special and unforgettable experience.

In Mexico, Día de los Muertos is a special six-day festivity where families set up special altars in honor of their family members who have passed away.  In each house, ofrendas are placed on altars intended to welcome them back amongst the living.  The ofrendas are collections of objects that held some type of significance to the dearly departed while they were still alive.

special altars are set up in honor of family members who have passed away.
altar of Dia de los Muertos at the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosí

El Día de los Muertos is a very misunderstood cultural tradition from Mexico, Central, and South America.  Its roots originate amongst the many native tribes that lived in the continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans.  Even the Spanish priests who came to America during the Conquista did not fully understand this concept of honoring dead relatives.

There are tons of articles and books written about this stigmatized and misunderstood holiday, but the more we read them the more confused the person trying to learn about can become.  I believe this is because it is hard to be able to explain spirituality within Native American cultures to someone in the outside who did not grow up in it.  As a result, people judge both the culture and the people who practice such traditions.

Although pre-Hispanic practices of Día de los Muertos have changed greatly throughout the ages, the essence of this special holiday has not changed; taking time to remember the relatives who are no longer on this earth.

As much I would like to be able to travel to Mexico during this special day, to be able to eat, smell, see, touch, and hear the festivities that take place during Día de los Muertos, I currently can’t.  So instead, I do what I can to educate my family about this part of my culture, sharing with them all the things they are missing by growing up elsewhere.

I prepare special sweets, desserts, and drinks that resemble the smells of the mercados in Mexico during this time of the year.  I take out pictures of my family members from Mexico who are no longer with us.  I share anecdotes about them and explain to my daughters how much they meant to me.

I light up a candle and say a prayer for them.

I don’t want to ever forget them and it is my duty that my children learn who those special people in my life were.

This year, my cousin from Mexico sent me pictures of the colorful altars set up by the local government in the city of San Luis Potosi, where I am originally from.  Many cities in Mexico set up similar altars in their respective Historic centers.  The altars set up in Mexico City, Oaxaca and Michoacán are the most famous.  San Luis Potosi sets up altars throughout the Historic Downtown of the city.  They are very striking and interesting to see.

Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí
Día de los Muertos altar in San Luis Potosí
Día de los Muertos is a very special day in Mexico.

Other places to visit during Día de los Muertos are the cemeteries, which are full of life during this time of the year.  Cemeteries are usually depicted as creepy, dark and gloomy in Hollywood movies, but in Mexico this is the opposite during Día de los Muertos.  The whole cemetery comes alive during November 1 and 2, the official days of Día de los Muertos.

Entire families go to the cemetery and spend the whole night or nights at the grave of their dead relatives.  They light up candles, take beautiful flower ornaments, and take food to eat with their families while they stay up all night praying and thinking of their long-gone relatives.

It is beautiful to experience this.

This year I will be making a special place today to remember my stepdad who passed away this year on April.  It was his wish before he passed away to be able to go back to Mexico to spend time with his relatives.

Feliz Día de los Muertos to those who celebrate this holiday!

The Friends We Leave Behind

Of all the people who were the hardest to break away from, not counting my grandmother, were my friends.  I always hoped one day I would go back to Mexico and reunite with them or at least see them again.

In Mexico, Secundaria is the equivalent of junior high in the U.S.  Students spend three years in Secundaria before they move on to Preparatoria or high school.  Students in Mexico spend three years in Junior High and three years in high school for a total of six years.

This is a very important time in the life of any young person, where they go through tremendous growth emotionally, mentally and physically.  For me, this was also the time when one of the biggest changes in my life took place; moving to another country.

After graduating from my neighborhood’s well-known private catholic school, my Mom chose a public junior high school for me because it was near my grandmother’s house.  It was also within walking distance for me, so I’m sure that weighed in on my Mom’s decision as well.  Other kids ended up going to other private junior high schools further away from the neighborhood.

I knew that attending this particular public school would mean I would not see my elementary school friends again, but I was okay with that. I would just make new friends at the new school.  And that’s how I came to spend my first year of junior high at Escuela Secundaria General Dionisio Zavala Almendarez, a public junior high school near my grandmother’s house.

Things there were going great for me.  I made friends very easily and soon I became one of the most popular kids in my classroom.  This was way different from my previous private catholic school.  Changing from a private catholic school to a secular public school was such a contrast.  There, I met girls who were more down-to-earth; they didn’t care so much about appearances.  Of course, there were some mean girls who thought they were better than everyone else; you will always find those types everywhere.  But with so many students in my new school, keeping away from such girls was fairly easy.

I had a particular group of girl friends who made me laugh and who I made them laugh in turn.  We all went through difficulties together, such as the time when we had to sing in public in front of our music teacher in order to pass our class.  We all went together to the tardeadas, teenage parties organized by the school to raise funds.  We listened to music together and talked about who we liked and didn’t like in school.  The end of that first year was coming in fast and by then we looked forward to our next year together and to the new adventures it would bring.

As that first year of junior high came to a close, a time I still treasured as one of my happiest school moments, my mom announced that we were moving to another country.  And to make matters worse, it wasn’t for sure that we were coming back to Mexico.  As the words came out of my mom’s lips, I felt my world came crumbling down.  I immediately felt the sadness take hold of my heart.  I had just turned thirteen years old, an age already full of changes and inconveniences, and now this.

I believe that I became a little depressed, but at that time, I couldn’t name it as such.  After letting my friends know that I was moving to another country, they hosted a few dinners for me as a way to say good-bye.  But once the school year came to an end, I refused to go out at all.  Going out reminded me of all the things, people and places I would soon leave behind, and I hated that.  As a result, I secluded myself from my friends and became withdrawn.

I understood my Mom was doing the best for her daughters.  She wanted us to have better opportunities growing-up.  And as a single mother living in Mexico, she didn’t have much support from anyone.

Children and teenagers understand more than parents give them credit for.  They understand when a parent has to make difficult choices such as moving to another country and that this does not mean the parents loves them any less.  However, these choices still hurt and parents should be mindful of their children’s feelings and allow them to grieve properly.

It is now that I am older, a mother, a wife and with the Wisdom that God gave me, that I understand that this type of experience in once’s life requires proper grieving.  A child needs to grieve about leaving their comfort zone behind, their country, their friends, their extended family, in the same way a person grieves the loss of a loved one or the pain that follows a breakup.

Even though it’s been twenty-five years since I left Mexico, that sunny, sad afternoon still makes me cry.  It makes me cry because it was Mom’s decision to move us to another country and I had no choice in the matter.  Because I could not change things, because I had to say good-bye to my grandmother, my awesome friends, my neighborhood, my country, everything about my life in Mexico and exchange it all for some distant, unknown land up north.

I did go back a few times to Mexico after being settled in the U.S., but it wasn’t the same.  I was unable to locate my friends; some of them moved away, stopped writing to me and just lost touch with one another.

It was heartbreaking as a new teenager to understand how distance and time can wither a relationship, similar to a plant when you don’t take care of it.

I have a few pictures of my junior high friends taken during a regular school day.  Just four pictures of them.  It is all I was able to take with me when we moved.

As an adult, I thought I had moved on from that period of my life after I moved away from my country; however, these repressed memories lingered in the back of my mind, never truly disappearing with time.  Whenever I looked at the pictures of my friends or my life in Mexico, my memories were tinged with sadness.

I now hope to return to that place where I left a piece of my heart behind.  I no longer hope things were different.  I am thankful for my friends at that time in my life.  Those moments, as fleeting as they might’ve been, will forever be treasured in my heart.

God has been instrumental in my healing process, God showed me that this period of my life is too important to ignore.  As a young preteen I was forced to put this part of my life in the “backburner,” not knowing how to properly handle it and by being forced to put aside my feelings for the sake of what was best for my family.  Most of all, I am thankful to God for giving me the courage to go back to that period in my life and heal properly from that heartache.

My friend at Escuela Secundaria General Dionisio Zavala Almendarez
My dear friends in Junior High School May 1994
Primer Grado “A” Escuela Secundaria General Dionisio Zavala Almendarez
My best friends from Secundaria or Junior High School in San Luis Potosi

An Unexpected Turn of Events During our Trip to Historic Annapolis

This summer, my family and I made the ritual visit to one of my favorite places in the East Coast: Annapolis, Maryland.  We have been visiting Historic Annapolis and the Naval Academy for the last ten years.  My husband graduated the Naval Academy in 2001 and he loves serving as tour guide and sharing with us all about the history of the academy.

We drove to Annapolis on an overcast day with chance of rain later in the afternoon, but we thought the rain would only last a little while.  Fifteen minutes after we arrived, the rain began pouring.  We rushed towards the Rotunda and spent our time in there walking around Memorial Hall, an area dedicating to honoring the lives of naval war heroes.  Once the rain stopped, we took a chance to stroll around the academy grounds.  A couple, who had just gotten married, were having their pictures taken in the beautiful gazebo immediately across the Naval Academy Chapel.  As we walked by and admired the bride and the groom rain began to pour again.  This time we decided to take shelter in the nearest building open to the public, which happened to be the Naval Academy Chapel.

This is our sixth time visiting Historic Annapolis together and up to now, I’ve never had the opportunity to go inside this chapel.  What a perfect time to discover what’s inside!

As we entered the church, we were welcomed by the relaxing music coming from a young man playing his guitar while singing old country Christian songs; songs I had never heard before yet made me feel right at home.

By now, it was pouring outside.  Once I realized we were going to be there for a while I made myself comfortable and tried to make the best of the situation.  I stood there listening to the singer who seemed to be practicing for Sunday worship.  All of the sudden, I looked to my left and noticed a tall window adorned with the striking image of an angel.

As I looked around the chapel, I noticed the entire building was decorated with stained-glass windows depicting images of well-known stories from the Bible.  The two images that caught my attention were those of Archangel Gabriel, on the left side of the nave, and Archangel Michael, to the right.  At the far end of the chapel, behind the altar, was an image of Jesus Christ also made out of stained-glass.

As I walked around the chapel, another window caught my attention.  It read, “Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of Men” (Saint Mark 1:17).  I could not stop looking at the image depicted above this inscription; of Jesus standing in a teaching position, speaking to His disciples while their nets were full of freshly-caught fish.  I was moved by this image because it reminded me of a promise God gave me.

“Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of Men” Saint Mark 1:17
Mark 1:17

I took many pictures as I walked around, admiring these pieces of art while reflecting on the importance of each and every one of the stories they represented.  I love reading these stories in the Bible and imagining what the people in the stories actually looked like.  Normally, I seldom watch movies about the Bible or look at illustrated Bible stories.  I feel such interpretations change the perception of the viewer, skewing the way a person thinks about each Biblical story to match the views of the painter or the director.  However, I was able to appreciate these scriptures and images as they related to the line of work of the life of a sailor.

As a former sailor myself, working out at sea and understanding concepts related to the Navy, I was mesmerized with how particularly the scriptures on these windows were chosen as they clearly drew connections with the Bible and the sea as well as to man’s relationship with God.

“What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him” (Saint Matthew 8:27) was another inscription and image that caught my attention.  The story of Jesus Calms the Storm reminded me of the rain that was pouring outside at that moment.  It also brought to mind how many times I encountered storms while being out to sea while stationed onboard a ship.  I imagined how it must’ve been to be in the presence of Jesus while He calmed the storm in front of His disciples.

“They that go down to the sea in ships these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep” (Psalm 107:23-24).  Another Scripture that spoke to me.

It was fascinating to see how all of these stories on the windows related to the sea and man, fighting storms, the elements of nature, how many of the stories of the Bible have to do with the sea and water…God continues to amaze me! How much more I have yet to learn from God!

Even though the rain was an unexpected part of our family trip to Annapolis, God had other plans for us.  The rain caused us to stop in an unexpected place where I was reminded of and taught new things about the wonders of God.  It is always in the least expected places where you’ll find God revealing Himself and His wonders.

Matthew 8:27
Matthew 8:27
Psalm 107:23-24
Psalm 107:23-24
Exodus 14:16
“The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah”
Jonah 1:1
overlooking the dock in Historic Annapolis
During my visit at the Naval Academy Chapel and Annapolis