Saturday, August 2, 2014

in which we see our own poverty

As I near the five-year mark of my time at Walnut Hill, I have been contemplating a lot what these Connecticut years have meant and the gifts that have resulted. Among the sweetest of these is the little village in Nassau that is consuming more and more of my affection.

Tonight--a few weeks after returning with a team of fourteen students--my heart is bursting with love for the little ones we've come to call friends and swelling with pride in my students, these 17 and 18-year-old fearless ambassadors of peace and goodness.

It is the greatest privilege of my life to sit at the crux of discipleship and justice, 

...where students I love are being transformed as they meet God in the dingy, mired, beautiful
{Blessed am I among women!}

...where the lowest and the least are teaching us about things of true value. 

We have much still to learn, my students and I. We have much still to repent.

Together we set our faces, unflinching, to look upon suffering, injustice, and poverty that we cannot fix. We determine to be present in a place most would prefer to ignore.

We throw ourselves headlong into the darkness to find, amazingly, 
that the Light is already there. 

And so we offer all we have, really. We give ourselves to creative work that we hope will spark more creativity. We give the millionth piggyback ride and pray that a child will know she is valuable and loved. We share our stories and ask good questions. We play, we dance, we encourage. We leave behind pieces of our hearts in this place that is at once dark and beaming because that's what love does. We open our eyes, and as we do we begin to see things as they really are.

{{It's not enough. But it's far more valuable than I could have dreamed five years ago.}}

It strikes me again, as we try to offer something that will last beyond the short week and the soccer ball we brought, that these beautiful brown babies with their deep, knowing eyes are some of my best teachers. Our upside-down world with all its lies about power and beauty tells them that our milky white skin and our privileged citizenship mean we have more to offer.

But I know a more real Reality: That their voices and their presence are needed. That they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:4). That He is near to them. That they have infinite worth because they are His.

And I wonder if they know that they are changing me, revealing the depth of my own poverty and the reaches of a Love that finds me in it.