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Love Blooms in Traffic


Editor’s Note: Current Missioner in Bolivia, SarahJane Cauzillo recalls a moment when she allowed herself to be present to the workings of God, instead of sitting in frustration.

I was late. Like, really late. I was over an hour outside of the city and yet here I was, slammed into a crowded trufi (taxi bus), stuck in the clogged back roads of this little town. I was supposed to be at dinner with my community-mates in 20 minutes. I was traveling through a part of town I did not know well, alone, as darkness was approaching, and there I was stuck in a traffic jam.

When we finally began chugging along the dirt road, I pulled my head up and looked out of the open window. The cool evening breeze hit my face and I noticed the sun was setting behind the mountains in the distance. Lit up like a blooming flower, the sky was layered in soft reds, cotton-candy pinks, and bright yellows. The whole countryside was basking in the last glows of the sun’s light. It seemed even the families we drove past, cooking dinner outside their homes, were all slowing down for just a moment to soak in the last rays of the day’s warmth.

The men in the back of the trufi, who were returning from the same local celebration that I was, struck up their instruments and began singing loudly and sweetly in Quechua. The woman next to me, with her son on her lap, was laughing at their silly songs. She turned to me, and her chocolate eyes met mine. We shared smiles and a kind eye-roll at the men’s insistence to continue playing loudly throughout the car ride, even though we were leaving the party behind.

I looked back out the window and caught my reflection in the rearview mirror. I found an ear-to-ear grin stretching across my sun-kissed face. I felt moisture softening my eyes as a deep joy began bellowing up from deep inside my soul. Here is God, I thought. In this crowded trufi, in the back roads of traffic, here is God, so abundantly present with us. Every concern of tardiness, fear of traveling in unknown places, or simple ignorant self-preoccupation melted away as the tangible Peace of Christ began overflowing from my very skin.

This is one of the most beautiful awakenings I have experienced in the last year living in Bolivia: how wildly, generously, and organically God is present to us, all the time. Outside of the concrete walls of the church building and working overtime past Mass or Eucharistic Adoration hours is a living, breathing, creating God, who delights in making Himself/Herself known to us. All God is waiting for is for us to look up and notice. When I think back to this simple traffic jam, to this routine moment of sharing transportation with strangers, I think what equal delight God must have experienced in our mutual recognition. Did the sky bloom even brighter when I heard God’s voice in the Quechuan music? When I saw God’s eyes in the chocolate irises of the woman next to me? When I experienced God’s peace in surrendering to the gift of the present moment? I like to believe so. In Advent, we are blessed to have a dedicated liturgical season that lends itself to reflection and beckons us to recognize the Living Incarnate Christ all around us, every day, in every moment.

Reflection Question: When was a time when God’s presence was revealed to you amidst frustration?

SarahJane Cauzillo sought various opportunities during her college years at Grand Valley State University to learn more about pressing social justice issues. Mission trips to Detroit awakened a special interest in working with youth, particularly young women. Serving on mission will be a hands-on opportunity to build relationships with others through sharing the Gospel and ministry of presence. Joining an intentional faith community with other lay Catholics was an essential element in choosing to serve overseas with FMS. SarahJane's hobbies include reading, writing, hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming, discovering new music, drinking coffee, and engaging in rich conversation with loved ones.