Late afternoon this past Tuesday, I returned from a month of helping out with an RSCJ project in Cuba. Over the course of three weeks, we put on 11 different day-camps at different sites for over 360 children. It was a phenomenal experience and I offer below some reflections from my journal….
14 July, 2013.
I am hotter than Hades, I am certain that I stink, and I ache almost everywhere possible. I have seen a waterfall, watched red ants congregate, seen termites in trees, burros roaming, a spider with a cylindrical back side, and a peacock who looked almost embarrassed to be molting. And I walked through breezes of dozens and dozens of butterflies.
19 July, 2013
Amazing as it is to say it, I am looking at the Caribbean while surrounded by children for whom this view is common and yet who do not have enough to eat and barely enough to survive. I am seeing blues and greens as God created them and not simply as painters have interpreted them. It makes a difference. I just spent a good long while throwing a ball for a huge lot of kids in the water (Tira, profe! Tira! Yo, yo!). Never has one tennis ball made so many people so happy at the same time. And I include myself in that absolute joy.
23 July, 2013
Thank you for the sleep. My eyes closed last night before finishing my first impressions of Natividad. When we were about to make superhéroes, I asked the group, ¿y si tu fueras un superhéroe, que sería tu poder? (If you were a superhero, what would your power be?) y sin pensar por quince segundos, El niño Artúr dijo, “Salvar a la gente.” Ni modo si para mucha gente estos niños son los olvidados, tú estás aquí. Tú estás tan presente aquí. Tú siempre vas a recordarles. (And without thinking for fifteen seconds, the child Artúr said Save the people. Whether or not these children are the forgotten ones for many, you are here. You are so very present here. You will always remember them.)
July, 24, 2013
Note to self: Looking down is sometimes vital. Looking up also has its merits. Completely cracked my head on a cast iron pump handle today in Camino de Santa Cruz and did so with such oomph that I had to sit rest while several of the women offered consolation, including taking turns holding a frozen water bottle on my head and fanning me with their hands. The men thought it was hilarious in the best good natured way…which it was, really. One of them stripped off his tee shirt and tied it onto the handle so I would see it. It was such honest care and laughter, both. A deep appreciation for the humor of a situation and an extraordinary attentiveness to caring…what a wonderful combination.
Then after returning to the house, I took a nap and for the third day in a row dreamed of the whole process of my death…
I am curious about the meaning of dreaming my death three days running. Part of me hopes that it has to do with dying to old ways and opening up to something new…and part of me hopes that it is not anticipatory, though I have to say that there was no fear in my dream and the experience nearly beautiful…nearly because as yet, I find it hard to imagine my own death as a beautiful thing.
29 July, 2013
The other night at evening prayer I had said that people would ask me what I had done in Cuba during this past month and that I had been thinking about what I would say. My first instinct, and what I shared that night, is that I have seen the Cuban face of God and received God’s gaze in return. This morning while washing a passel of breakfast dishes (pan y café y tanta vajilla…nunca voy a entender– bread and coffee and yet so many dishes…I will never understand) another considerable learning came to me–> I have experienced here that many things are far more precious and far more precarious than I knew them to be before. That is to say, what I have known about this internally–whether in heart or head or both–has been grounded in a mystical immediacy…In a lived reality where every moment is lived fully in its time, where I feel like I am touching the ground and touching humanity within myself and in others, and where (from Wisdom…) the pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty is witnessed in acts of extraordinary welcome and generosity by those who have few material goods, in relationship, in laughter, in witnessing to the possibility of hope, in sitting together and listening to one another…in the solidarity of the Heart.