Caridad's Entry #4
"Let Me be Fascinated"
Sunset in Flores, Guatemala
pleased can one
setting make you
you humble yourself to it?
grateful can you
say that you are
to be here and live
—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."
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."