After the symbolic ritual cleansing in the Rio Grande River, Esperanza felt led to take an extended retreat into the hill country to find her center. She had decided to fast during this retreat, drinking only water from the canteens and supply she brought with her. This had been a long held ritual to find oneself while cutting off from the rest of society and technology. Overall she had been on this retreat for forty days.
After the thirtieth day, Esperanza had grown hungry. The lack of food and the lack of input had begun to drive her into some hallucinations. At first, they were small, like a rabbit that wasn’t really there, to voices of people she knew and loved that had long since left her. On a fortieth day, a figure bathed in light and glorious like the morning star appeared before her. It spoke to her in a melodic and inviting voice that sounded like a grand symphony inviting her to listen. “Aren’t you hungry? You know you are the child of the Divine, don’t you? See that round rock over there? Comand that rock to become bread.” Esperanza shook her head to clear it. She spoke to the figure. “As it’s been said, we can’t fully live just by filling our bellies.”
Suddenly, she looked around and realized she was on HaAv’s balcony. The one on which he addresses the many Jesuits who come to pilgrimage to the Ir Gibeah. “Jump,” the figure said simply. “Show these people that you are the child of the Divine. They will believe you are if only you jump. The Divine would protect you. Finally, a woman would be in the highest seat of power within the religion.” Esperanza felt conflicted. Even more so than from the hunger. That was something she wanted. She wanted to tear down this power structure that kept people subjugated. She shook her head again. “No, I will not be a part of the system that keeps people subjugated.”
Again, the scene shifted around her. Now she was standing in a crater on the moon. She rubbed her eyes, this must be a hunger hallucination she thought to herself. The figure pointed to the earth. “What if I told you, I can give you power over all of that. Nobody would have to be subjugated anymore. You would just tell them not to. You can have it all, you only need take it.” Esperanza thought for a good long moment. She knew she could have power and would only need grasp it. She again shook her head. “No! That’s not the way. They wouldn’t learn that way. People need to come to the choice on their own to be good. If I do it for them, they would never understand why they need it.” She closed her eyes.
When she opened her eyes, she saw the same Texas hillside that she was sitting on only moments earlier. She knew that it may have been a hallucination, but it taught her what she needed to know about herself. Her retreat was over. She opened her pack and pulled out a self-made granola bar. She ate and returned to her vehicle to return home.
When she returned home, she went to her congregation the next weekend. She prepared a message relating all she had learned on her retreat. She read from the prophet Isaiah. She read:
The Spirit of the Divine is upon me, Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the the time of the Divine”
She closed the book and handed it back to the acolyte who was standing nearby. She spoke and said. “The Kingdom of the Divine is here and now. We only need to make it a reality. We have been sent to give good news to the poor. We should help them and ensure they have what they need. We have been sent set those who are captive, free. Whether mentally, physically, or otherwise we are the ones to bring freedom. We are the ones to give sight to the blind. It is the time of the Divine. We are the ones who make it a reality. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. It is our time.”
There was a murmur in the congregation. “Isn’t this Maria and Jose’s Daughter? Where did she learn to speak like that? Why is a Mexican trying to tell us what to do?” She heard the murmur and addressed it, “Maybe you will choose not to believe me because I’m the daughter of immigrants. Maybe you will always see me that way. But I bring you the truth. Wasn’t there a story of the time of Elisha, where there was a famine in the land? The only ones who believed him were widows and foreigners.” Those who had murmured turned red with anger. The congregation started to get up out of their seats. She watched as they demanded she leave them. She walked out to her car as the congregation held a special meeting. Later that day she received word that she had been let go.
It was in that moment, that Esperanza knew she would no longer be a priest with a home. She needed to spread the message that the Divine’s Kingdom was here. Now was the time for the Divine’s people to act, and we are all the Divine’s people. It was time for her real ministry to begin.
Esperanza was invited to come speak in a temple in Kerrville. It was the Temple where her cousin Zachary had served for many years. It was a normal Sunday morning and people were filing into the temple. A young man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his face turned and looked her in the eye. He did it in such a sudden and rapid movement that it startled her. His eyes were blood shot and red. He looked high. His voice shook with terror. “What are you doing here? You are Esperanza Reyes. Did you come to rid this boy of me?” His last sentence dripped with disdain, “I know who you are, Daughter of the Divine.” Esperanza placed her hand on his shoulder in a kind and comforting way. She spoke to him. “It’s okay. I know the pain you have felt. You don’t need to escape it in this way anymore.” She whispered to him, “I have come to set you free.” The young man’s eyes cleared, and his posture changed. He stood up straight and pulled the hood down from over his head. He hugged her.
Those who were standing nearby knew this young man to be an addict. They marveled and said to each other “Who is this woman who can set a man free from his addictions with just a few words?” Reports of this encounter spread as most stories of amazement do. It became popular on social media. Many didn’t believe the story, many did. Esperanza’s story began to gain attention, and she was sought after to speak in many places from that point on.