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Guatemala '22

“Where’s my weekly reading?” A consistent friend, reader, and supporter texted me Friday last week.

I informed him, and now you, that I was in Guatemala and didn’t have/make time to write. Thank you for your patience and support.

This past Tuesday night I returned from the beautiful, tropical country of Guatemala and am excited to share with you some experiences and lessons, as well as the the conclusion of my 25th year and start of my 26th year of life.

What follows are some highlights from my trip to Guatemala with Chabad Young Professionals International:

  1. Shabbat (Friday night to Saturday night) was my Hebrew birthday. In newsletter issue #61 (and #27 I mentioned times of review) on April 8, I shared that “my birthday is coming up in less than a month, so I sat down to evaluate my life and see how I can improve.” Additionally, I envisioned how my life looks and feels by Iyar 13 (May 14). And I asked what would bring me joy? An emotion I always resonated with is triumph over limitations (like we learn during Passover). An image of triumph and celebration for me is on top of a mountain with the heart bursting outward and the arms outstretched in alignment with the arms (like the photo in this blog). This is to be understood differently than arms flexing up next to the head, which expresses ego. The former expression is one of, in chassidic terms, ufarazta, which means “to break through” or “to spread out.” A gesture moving energy from the heart validates genuine joy and accomplishment. This vision was borne in my head, but it was still unclear as to where I may go, what mountain may it be on, and other specific intentions that draw down the vision into physical reality. In other words, it’s a very vague desire want to climb a mountain because well, for one, there are several mountains in the world one could climb! However, I later saw (or remembered) a trip Chabad Young Professionals was having in Guatemala, which included hiking up a volcano. “Perhaps that’s the mountain I’ll climb,” I thought. Sure enough, early Friday morning I woke at 2:30 am to meditate, in which I heard loud blasts of volcano Fuego, and at 4 am hiked up the summit of Acatenango volcano to see the sunrise. To our surprise, this hike was no simple trek. By the peak, only 5 of us remained to see the sun rise as we stood above the clouds in alignment with the peaks of the volcanoes Agua and Fuego, while witnessing smokey eruptions from Fuego. It was breathtaking and the manifestation of my vision over a month earlier. These moment from seed to cup, as I like to say, are moments of triumph and celebration. It’s beautiful to have an idea and see it through to its completion. The climb, however, was very steep. It felt like each step up a climber would slide back two steps. The weather felt cold, my stomach was aching from eating barbecue and s'mores late, we were tired, and yet we did it. With the end in mind, these other variables lose their effect because they are transient. Later that day after we ate the delightful and delicious meal of Shabbat, the group leaders asked me to share a word for my birthday. I shared in great appreciation the cumulation of what is written above, and for them for preparing this trip making it possible and much simpler to fulfill my vision.