When being together works: part 2

Dear friends,

As we stride on in to the month of March, rather than primroses and crocuses, the change of season is signaled by ironed white shirts, superhero backpacks and shiny new shoes. This morning I was treated to the sight of my neighbour’s sons passing by, parading polished and proud to the first day of school this year.

Us gringos know the drill now. Once the student has paid their registration fee for the new year with the school, they receive a long list of materials they need to buy for the year’s classes. If the student makes it through to secondary school, this list will cost up to S/200 (£50) to fulfill. This is generally the parents’ headache come February, at which point they may choose to locate a wealthy uncle from Lima or the nearest well-meaning foreigner. Or if you’re already a ‘madrina’ to one of these students, you’ve committed yourself to helping them out with these sorts of things and you just wait for the knock on the door.

The thing is, I may be quite familiar with all these things now, including my local families, their children, the annual struggle, the agreeing to help…perhaps I can really imagine myself as one contending shoulder-to-shoulder with my neighbours in the daily challenges of life.

And then I have a conversation with a young person from church who’s trying to attend the local college and hear the challenges they’re facing in order to make something productive of their life. And it reminds me with a thump to the chest that no, I am still from a very different world indeed. In that moment I do what I can to encourage them, say all the right spiritual-sounding things. But I have to admit that I went through that stage of my life in what increasingly seems to me to have been a parallel universe. Truth is, I’m still there. However much I encourage with words and make myself heart-sick over the sustainability of my charity, personal or otherwise, my reality is that sooner or later I can choose to fly away.

Granted that the universe which will fly me back is the same universe that flies me here in the first place.

So what is my cockle-warming conclusion?

I like the picture of the two brothers and the hammer from my last post because, intentionally or not on the part of the participants, it speaks to me of risk-taking love and the possibility of building real bridges.

In conclusion, I’m glad to be a follower of One who has traversed an incomprehensible expanse to stand with us, who is ineffably different from all of us, and still He has told us that the most important thing we can do, wherever we are, is to love, even a glass of water (or a dozen school exercise books?!) will do.

Love Laura x