Caridad's Entry #4

"Let Me be Fascinated"

Sunset in Flores, Guatemala

“How pleased can one

Sun setting make you

If you humble yourself to it?

How grateful can you

Really say that you are

Just to be here and live

Through it?”
                         —ani di franco

Am I grateful just to be here and live through all this? Sometimes I'm really not. But when I can step away, even mentally, I know I'm part of an invaluable experience. I was really glad to be sick yesterday. I spent the entire day in bed (minus meals) sleeping, dreaming, writing, reflecting and praying. I discovered some really good things in that-namely, that I do know why I'm here and that I haven't made a mistake in coming.

I don't think any of us volunteers are here just for the sake of Guatemala, even though that sounds like the right missionary answer. We are here for the sake of things that have yet to be developed in ourselves, in our loved ones and in this nation. We are here because Christ has promised to develop those things into an image that is more like his own, more powerful and brilliant than we can imagine. And we stay here because, day in and day out, God reveals a bit more of the art piece he is composing. I've seen it in the clouds and the landscape, in the shriveled hands that extend to give me food, in the shy eyes that look up at me in moments of hope, in the bright smiles of women who have so little to hang onto. I am on this mission not to prove anything, but to let Christ save and increase the sweetness, truth and hope that already exists in myself, in Guatemala, and in my loved ones at home.

As I slowly accept the three-sided mission I am part of, I am amazed at the way all the elements of my life are woven together. As one side of the mission develops, so do the others. People on all sides of this mission are serving each other. People at home are blessed by my stories about the Guatemalans, I am blessed by the prayer and encouragement from people at home, and Guatemala is blessed by the prayers and new projects my American contacts are constantly developing. We are all growing. I don't feel like we're going forward in a straight line, but like we are ever expanding into a larger life of God's grace, truth and joy.

Jesus said, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28) Time and again, I have estimated the costs of being here, and whenever I include God's faithfulness in my budget, I always know I have enough.

I'm finding that this life wants to break a pattern of mine-the pattern of always being on the fringe with social groups. Maybe it's because I didn't go to kindergarten, who knows? But I look back and see that I have always chosen to withhold myself from groups that I don't easily fit into. Even if they are good people. Here, choosing to do that can easily be seen as rejection, and is a good way to isolate myself when I need intimacy. So I'm praying to trust and respect the people here more. True, we'll always have differences. But they deserve more trust than I've given them. In fact, they are earning that trust. They are taking good care of me.

Chatting with Mam women

Last night Petrona and Maria came into my room to give me coffee and bread to combat the cold. The power was out, so they came in with candlelight on their smiling faces. They were so warm, so caring. I was grateful. The candlelight was so beautiful that I pulled out my "Tracks" book and read for about an hour. The story and ideas were much keener under candlelight.

The author, Robyn Davidson, asks, "What is the substance of the world in which you live?" A good question. I'll need to come back to it. I wonder if the substance is different now than it was in Idaho, or if it's just taken a new shape?

She also talks about why she left her middle-class life to work with camels in the desert: "I had also been vaguely bored with my life and its repetitions-the half-finished attempts at different jobs and various studies; had been sick of carrying around the self-indulgent negativity which was so much the malaise of my generation, my sex and my class. So I made a decision which carried with it things that I could not articulate at the time. I had made the choice instinctively, and only later had given it meaning. The trip had never been billed in my mind as an adventure in the sense of something to be proved…. One really could act to change… one's life; and the procedure, the process was its own reward." (Davidson 50-51)

It seems to me what pulled her through her experience (which was a hell of a lot harder than mine is) was tenacity and fascination with the world she had jumped into. Tenacity: just get up and go at it again every day. Fascination: let yourself be fixated on something outside of you.

As I mulled over these ideas I blew the candle out and watched the wick fade slowly, slowly, slowly into a pinpoint of warmth before it fell into darkness. I was fascinated with the flame, enchanted by it. My prayer as I snuggled deep into my sleeping bag with the sounds of the family above me was, "Let me be fascinated by these people."