Parque Natural Metropolitano

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Our first full day in Panama, we headed out early to hike in the Parque Natural Metropolitano. This more than 650-acre park protects vast expanses of tropical semideciduous forest within the Panama City limits. More than 250 bird species have been spotted here, and animals such as agouti, sloth, and tití monkeys can be seen as well as lots and lots of leafcutter ants.

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Getting to know the semideciduous tropical forest.

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So many new (to me) and interesting plants.

I found the history of the park interesting, as well. Not only was it the site of an important battle when the US invaded to oust Manuel Noriega (ironic considering he was in the employ of the United States for years), but it was also used during WWII as a testing and assembly plant for aircraft engines. You can still see many of the concrete structures slowly being subsumed by the forest.

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Sign when you reach the top of the hill.

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View of Panama City and Bay

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Another view of the city.

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Costa Rica

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A red eye tree frog perches atop a bird of paradise.

Frank and I spent the past several weeks in Central America. The first two weeks were spent in Heredia, Costa Rica, where we attended the Tico Lingo language school and immersed ourselves in español for two weeks and six to eight hours a day.

We took advantage of the one weekend we had to tour the La Paz Waterfall Gardens where I met the tree frog. I also had the luck of seeing several butterflies emerging from their chrysalises:

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Because we were there during the rainy season, most of the day was spent in the rain. The advantage to that is that it made the fern-like trees of the rainforest seem otherworldly and almost primeval:

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Our first week of Spanish class was in an outdoor classroom. Fortunately, Heredia is at a high enough elevation (3,770 feet/1,150 meters) that the temperatures range from a low of 58º Fahrenheit/14.4º Celsius to a high of 80º Fahrenheit/26.6º Celsius the entire year. There’s no need for air conditioning or heating! Just make sure you bring an umbrella, particularly if you are going to be there between May and October.

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Next week: A change in elevation and climate as we head to Panama.

New Life After Death

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Guyon8

I no longer feel trapped
And no longer languor;
Nothing bothers me here
Because my heart
Is delivered from sadness
And pain.

Death was both my life
And the Foundation:
Seductive is the tyranny
Who torments,
Yet the soul can burst into honesty
In a moment.

I’m out of myself:
Happy place!
I found what I love;
And my love,
Although the most extreme,
Will not turn back.

~~Madame Guyon

(tr: Rev. Nancy C. James)

Only the Love of God

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Guyon7

Sing the canticle,
Of love, of simple faith;
Quit the false politics
That belies the faith.

Everything is going on, anything goes
And always will.
No trace will remain of any,
Except those who love.

Love, dear brothers and sisters,
Love God only:
All other love is rash,
And unworthy of a lover.

~~Madame Guyon

(tr: Rev. Nancy C. James)

Love God Alone

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Guyon6

From fearsome wilds a monster came. Upon its arrival I was filled with shame and horror.
At the sight, the birds lost their song and fell sadly to the ground.
Then a fearless sage whispered in my ear,
“Why all this terror and fright? Why do you look distracted with streaming eyes?”
Move away far from the world with its boast of joys and yet the pain it offers.
Openly and without guile, surrender to God with a pure and undivided heart.
The fearful savage form shall frighten your trembling soul no more.
For as dreadful as the sight is, the monster is but your love of self.
Fix all your love on God alone,
Choose only God’s will and hate your own will,
Then no fear shall be found in your path.
The dreary wasteland shall bloom everywhere and
Through deep happiness, you will sing God’s praises and bless God’s Holy Name.
O lovely solitude, how sweet the silence of this calm retreat!
Here beautiful truth whom I pursue,
Displays her full panoply to my view,
The simple, unadorned scene of Truth
Charms all pains and fears away.
O Truth, whom millions proudly offend,
O Truth, my dear treasure and delight,
Accept my tribute to your Name
And this poor heart’s offering to You!

~~Madame Guyon

(tr: Rev. Nancy C. James)

Pure Love and Truth: Costly and Rare

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Guyon5

From a pure and heavenly birth,
Love and simple Truth are rarely known on Earth,
Where stubborn men and women smother and quench these,
Perverse and stubborn will allow error and deception to reign.

How does this happen, that the power from on High,
From which humanity came
Rarely finds a listening ear
Or a heart that welcomes You here.
The answer lies that in Your wake You bring reproach and pain
Wherever You visit.

The proud world cannot bear to share God’s scorn and calumny.
They desire the praise of humans
They flee from the place where God is seen.
Pure love, with scandal in the rear, suits not the arrogant,
Pure love costs too much.

Then, let the price be whatever it is,
Though I am poor, I am prepared to pay the cost,
Come shame and sorrow and days of tears,
Weakness and oppressing fears.
One soul at least will not fail
To give You room,
Come reign in mine!

~~Madame Guyon

(tr: Rev. Nancy C. James)