Sunday, March 4, 2012

a visit to the community

opening the doors, the light entered the musty room where a life had been carelessly thrown into piles of papers and damp clothes.
a temporary holding place, an empty room that could hold this family, their stuff...
it had to be emptied, this room was for someone else.
and so began the task of having to literally step into the life of these unknown people.
picking up pieces of what to me was nothing, but to them was a necessary part of the structure of their day to day living.
the way everything had been thrown in, the way an old dirty shirt sat with a dusty hair brush next to a rusted hammer, all on the gritty floor, the way I was violating this privacy, this intimate collection of someone's life...
it was too much to bear. I hid the tears that exploded in my heart. this family had so very little and what they had was falling to pieces and all I could see was their poverty. all I could feel was the worthlessness of not treasuring what they did have.
it was pity.
and as I touched and handled this stuff, I suddenly recognized that this was far from compassion. 
this was my own poverty, my own sorrow, my own worthlessness. 
what good could I do by contributing more lack, more judgment, more and more and more of nothing.
so I made a conscious decision, right then and there. 
this life belonged to someone, these things had a story. 
not my story, THEIR story, their life. 
these pieces were just a part of someone's experience, an experience that belonged to them. these were not victims, but incredible and precious people who did not need my pity. I needed them.

as we finished emptying the room, I carefully placed the clothes in a bag. the papers in a pile. covered the bed with plastic out on the courtyard. I thanked these unknown faces. 
already they had offered me more than I could ever offer them.


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