Friday, September 7, 2012

Feeding My Children Peace, Love, Comfort

I have been waiting for the right word to pair with some photos I have of this new friend from Venezuela. I have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, swimming in beautiful stories, but not stories that are mine to tell. Stories of love, loyalty, faith, bravery, fortitude. Stories of loss and crisis and hearts rent in good-byes. But those are not my stories. And so I sit with pictures of an amazing young man and only bit stories of my own experience of him: stories of humor, talent, laughter, patience, and translation.

For a few years now, he has been the translator for the doctor from our town who meets up with Venezuelan doctors and dentists and head into the hills around Bocono for one-day clinics. All day long he translates for mothers, and translates for the doctor, and then translates for the mothers again. And one time, between patients, he played a guitar, or at least pretended to.

He was kind to my daughter.

Ate a bullion cube on a dare.

Took lots of photos of himself (as is common of his generation).

And told us stories, all twinkly-eyed, about his baby sisters (now teens) and how he would brush their hair and get them ready for school in the mornings when his parents started work before the sun. Because he is funny, and wears cool tee-shirts, I would sometimes forget that I was talking to a sage. But then he would say something about how his parents built a home for their children where there was always peace, love, and God’s own comfort, even when there wasn’t meat. Especially because there wasn’t always meat.

So school has started, and I have been thinking about my children in the world. Going to school without me. Pushing kids. Getting pushed. Learning to read. Learning how deep school-yard talk seeps in, especially the mean kind. Figuring out who to sit by in the cafeteria. Riding bikes up and down the street, watching for cars.

We come home in the afternoon spent. Ready to eat. Ready to stop being nice, stop taking turns, stop thinking about others.

Ready to eat.
Ready to rest.
But not always ready to bend, and pick up brick and mortar, and build a house of peace. And offer to each other the sweetness of love unearned, quiet safety, and a comfort like cool water running over hot stones.

But we can do that. Because that fruit is always, already here.
God with us.
His own spirit.
Even, and especially, in the space between arriving from out there and crawling into bed.

My friend shared with me of his parents bravery and grace in times truly hard. I haven't known the hunger of my children. I haven't known a lot of things. But the lesson keeps coming to mind, nonetheless. This young man, messenger of God, reminds me that the road of love, and peace, and warming laughter, is always before me, should I choose to ask for daily grace.

“A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.” Proverbs 17:1
So, Brother, in case you are reading . . . que Dios te bendiga. You bring good things to this earth. Your mama told us she has known since you were very young that you were meant for big work. “Se fue,” the woman at the church told her. And the beautiful truth about turning an ear to God is that it inevitably orients the other to the ground, so that you can hear your calling from both high and low. t.q.m.

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