Readers:  I’m still on vacation so I’ve asked Dane Dowell to guest-write my column.

Dane recently volunteered for Chispa Project. He is a life coach who loves to explore the confluence of spirituality, psychology and culture. He is also the author of an upcoming book, “The Light That Beckons.” Based in Denver, he’s often on adventures exploring the world. You can learn more about him at


June 9 2024 Dane Dowell

In my teens, I grew up in the Methodist church. I sang in choir, played handbells, joined the youth group and sat on the finance committee. I was a “Christian.”

In my 20s, I moved to Denver and started traveling the world. Experiencing other cultures, I began to question my faith. I learned to embrace my authentic self and rewrite my beliefs according to my lived experience. I called myself a “former Christian.”

In my 30s, I began a spiritual journey learning to acknowledge my inner light. Organized religion seemed to emphasize the external God. Through my spiritual studies, I began to also see our inner divinity. Christians believe God is Love.

Though not necessarily aligned with any one faith, I believe Love is God. Given my upbringing, I began to use the term “recovering Christian.”

Now in my 40’s (all of two months), I took a trip last month to Honduras with Chispa Project, and I am now calling myself a “catholic.” Not Catholic like the religion, but rather catholic in the true meaning of the word: the universal, undivided church.

The mission of Chispa Project is to partner with schools throughout Honduras to install libraries and bring books into classrooms.

Books empower kids with words. Children learn to tell stories. They read about different subjects. They learn critical thinking and engage their imaginations. Mostly run by Hondurans, the project is occasionally assisted by groups of volunteers who help local staff inaugurate a new school library.

In April, I joined the Chispa Project along with almost 20 other volunteers for one week. I met up with the group at the newly modernized Comayagua International Airport. We were an odd-looking bunch, but I was curious to hear everyone’s story.

After two hours of driving through lush green hills, we arrived at our destination close to Lago Yojoa. Honduras is a beautiful country where plants thrive, and life cannot help but burst forth everywhere. It felt symbolic of the abounding presence of life I hoped to experience that week in Honduras.

Gathered in a circle, we introduced ourselves. Within minutes, it became clear that we were a diverse group—diverse in terms of hometowns, ages, jobs, faith, sexualities, political ideologies and our lived experiences.

Back home, it would have been easy to draw lines and self-segregate. Instead, in Honduras, we spent a week volunteering together, and what a beautiful week it was.

I painted walls with Robert from Colorado, stickered books with Melissa from Florida, assembled bookshelves with Bob from South Carolina and organized classroom activities with Marianne from Tennessee. Throughout the week, I was afforded glimpses into the lives of more than 20 unique individuals.

Yes, we were incredibly different. Yet as volunteers, we became united in our actions as one collective family. There were many moments of levity and laughter and moments of sincere depth. Spending a week with these people, I came to see how we are all more alike than we are different. We all had an inner light: the Christ within.

In the rural countryside of Honduras, I was reminded of a line from the Apostle’s Creed:

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church….” Truly, that week kindness and generosity united us all; we were each connected by the spirit of love. Though a stranger in foreign lands, I found a family; though a “recovering Christian” among diverse beliefs, I found a new home in the “catholic church.”


Readers: I return from my cruise tomorrow and will be  home only one week before I go to Honduras to help establish the 86th library for Chispa Project. Honestly, we’ll need some big last-minute donations to fully fund this library. Thank you – Norris

Give online today at or make check to “Chispa Project.” Send to 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602. Email or message at (843) 608-9715.