By Caroline Johnson, FC 17 Costa Rica
There is a phrase here in Costa Rica that seems to follow nearly every other phrase, “Si Dios quiere”. Literally it means “if God wants it”, and while it can be heard in nearly a dozen variations, it always means the same thing: God’s will before mine.
Costa Rican culture has managed something that I, as a young Catholic woman, often struggle with; that is, how to welcome God into all of my everyday moments, decisions, thoughts, and actions. Somehow, this entire country has figured out what 16 years of Catholic education could not quite help me learn, but let me assure you, Costa Rica is a fantastic teacher and the lesson is now imprinted for life.
Si Dios quiere is often used as a salutation or simply a way to say “these are my plans, but only if God wants it.” For example, as I disembark from the bus every afternoon with one of my dear friends, we always say goodbye in a similar fashion: “See you later!” quickly followed by, “We’ll see each other, si Dios quiere”. When the four of us FrancisCorps volunteers first arrived in Costa Rica we found this constant reference to God’s will somewhat unnerving. It was as if everyone else knew something we didn’t and for some reason we would in fact NOT see them tomorrow. Over the past few months, however, I have realized that the constant invocation of God’s will reflects the deep, almost subconscious, connection the people of Costa Rica have to their God. By simply uttering “God-willing” so frequently throughout the day, we are all constantly reminded not only that nothing is according to our plans alone, but that this life is short and to put God’s will above all really just might be the secret to doing the best job we can.
While there are still a handful of cultural turn-of-phrases which I don’t yet feel quite tica enough to get away with using, si Dios quiere is one which I invoke loud and proud as often as I can. Above all, si Dios quiere is a small, but powerful, summation of everything those 16 years of Catholic education did manage to leave in my head. That when God comes first, when his plans are more important than my own, and when my decisions reflect the presence of my all-loving Father with me at all times, life really can be as easy and beautiful as the postcards make it seem.