Blog: Family Times

Symbols of Health

I had the privilege of speaking to young executives and their families in Ecuador. Before we went to the rainforest for the retreat, my host arranged a tour of Quito with "Quito's best tour guide and historian." He was right. My guide was entertaining and informative. He also had lots of clout. We went right to the head of the line of a hundred tourists at Saint Augustine Chapel. They stared at me like I was some kind of VIP. My guide took me to the roof of the chapel where I saw a panoramic view of Quito.  He pointed out key landmarks and explained the historical significance of each. Then we went to a 'Restricted Area' where a team was restoring the five-hundred year-old chapel. I noticed thousands of gold leaf pineapples on the ceiling, and huge clusters of grapes on the walls and pews. I asked, "Why all the pineapples?" He explained, "Pineapples are very significant to Ecuadorans. Years ago, when the European explorers came, many of them became sick with scurvy and died. But those who survived noticed that the people of Quito were healthy and didn't get scurvy. It was because we eat a lot of pineapples. So pineapples are a symbol of physical health for us, and the grapes represent spiritual health and the blood of Christ."

I thought this was powerful imagery. Later, that night when I presented my first session with the families, I said, "Today I learned the significance of pineapples and grapes in Ecuadoran culture and history - they represent physical and spiritual health. This weekend we will develop these themes by focusing on growing healthy homes - ones where we can grow physically, relationally and spiritually." My audience smiled and responded very positively because I had captured something relevant to them - something that echoed their culture and history, and now they were willing and ready to leave their mark on their families as we explored the qualities and habits of a healthy home.  

St. Augustine's Church, Quito  

St. Augustine's Church, Quito  

What are symbols of health with your family? Smiles, laughter, playfulness, harmony? What are your symbols for spiritual health? Prayers, joy, faith, confidence God will provide, compassion? How will you know if your family is spiritually sick? What scriptures will you use as a baseline to evaluate your family's health? What are your pineapples and grapes

Quito, Ecuador  

Quito, Ecuador