She clapped and waved her hands frantically at the waiter. He’d seen her already but was busy refilling glasses of water one table over. She called out to him, her voice cracking and higher pitched than was comfortable. When she brought her fingers to her lips to whistle, I reached out to stop her.
“Grandma! He’ll only be a minute. Please relax,” I urged, nervously eyeing the other tables around. Luckily, nobody was watching.
She leaned across the table and in what was meant to be a whisper reminded us, “You know, the coffee here is free!”
My cousins around the table chuckled. My grandmother is a lady of habit, and dragging us to this restaurant was no exception. When asked to choose a place to go eat, her default was response was either “the waffles” or “the burgers.” This time, the waffles had won. For her, it was no rare occurrence to schedule her outings around the two constants in her life: the novelas she watched on TV and her daily gathering with friends. How many years had she been gathering with the same group of friends—ten, twenty, thirty years? It could be longer. How many times had she told us about the free coffee? I smiled at the thought.
I rested my eyes on the building behind her, the San Francisco Convent. Its facade a robin’s egg blue, the Convent was one I’d sat before dozens of times—I’d even attended a wedding there once—but I knew nothing about it.
While everyone laughed over my brother’s Billy Madison impressions, I pulled out my phone to do some quick research. What I found was the oldest church in all of Central America. Unbeknownst to us, we were just meters away from an incredible relic of our faith. I’d been staring at a pretty face, a beautiful structure to look at, but within its walls was so much history, art, and prayers. First built in 1525, the church was destroyed three times over the few hundred years afterward. What wasn’t destroyed? The remains of almost 75,000 people buried deep within its catacombs.
“How did I miss all this?” I wondered.
And I remembered a quote from the book I was reading, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything:
"God communicates with you in your every day life. You just have to watch for it."
The waiter arrived with our meals on a large tray. “Gallo pinto and eggs?” he asked. He took his time going around the table handing out pancakes for some, waffles for others, oatmeal and fruit for me. And, at my grandmother’s insistance, coffee for everyone.