Last night I got word that Pedro Lopez died. He probably didn’t get past the 3rd grade. He lived all his life in Honduras. He raised a family; saw his grandkids and great-grandkids. I visited with him every year on our mission trip. This year, at 95 years of age, he was dying of cancer. I knew I would not see him in life again. The word yesterday was a shock, but not a surprise.

I am finishing up a doctorate. I hold two Master’s degrees. I do well in school and I’ve probably already read 50 times the number of books that Pedro ever read in his life. This man, though, is one of my heroes. When he opened his mouth you’d better listen, because what he didn’t have in book-learning he had in years of life lived carefully, deliberately and wisely. At his passing, he was far more educated than me. God rest his holy soul.

I have a picture of him I took last July. His eyes are so intense it hurt to return his gaze, and yet I could not help but do so. The photo doesn’t do it justice. There was a communication between his inner being and my inner being that has been matched only with very select few. He knew exactly what was going on and was at peace. I knew exactly what was going on and I was not nearly in as much peace as he. His gaze was peace-giving, and his love was cosmic—and yet focused on me. I’ll never forget the moment. It stretches the word “holy” almost to the breaking point.

There is a strand in the braid of my life that is Pedro Lopez. With every strand in a braid the time comes when it disappears into the center of the chord, out of sight, and yet very much present. Pedro has disappeared, and if I pray and work hard enough at being human maybe God will give me the grace to have him reappear in the way I am when I, too, lay on my last bed.


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