January 13, 2018
yesterday, sitting in the second class (having napped thru the first class which I skipped) a couple things happened. sh had a table full of "basura" as we call it....items we find in the desert which migrants have left behind or discarded along their way or at the point where they are picked up by a designated contact or by border patrol. she took a few moments to show and ask us to attach thoughts or stories about the items....toothbrushes and toothpaste, a baby bottle (pink), a woman's purse with a mirrorless compact, eyelash curler, razor, comb, photographs (candid shots of family members or friends?), a pair of high heel sandals beside the purse when found, a small men's belt with a heavy oval buckle, an alcoholics anonymous publication in Spanish, a bible. she passed many of these around the class as we spoke. they were all moving, but for some reason, (why is it one object will touch us in ways another doesn't, and why is it one object touches me bur another seems most significant to another?), i.e. the effect is random, unpredictable. therefore a whole table of objects IS required, because which one will contain the power varies, person to person, day to day. so yesterday, the one that touched me most deeply was a small, thin notebook, the front cover missing, the back no longer attached altho most of the glued binding for the pages was still intact. to protect it, a blue rubber band held all of it together. slipping it off and opening the pages, love poems, notes to a loved one, written in Spanish, I only grasped phrases here and there but holding it in my hands, I felt compelled to ask sh later if I could study it and translate it, page by page.
the second important item that I received there was the realization on my one year anniversary with this common ground and border fair event, of how much I have learned and experienced about these issues in just one year. there were those among us who were just like me last year, really new to all these complicated issues in the borderlands. it was like looking in the mirror and seeing, hearing myself a year ago. and there is still so much to learn. imagine sh, 20 years in to these border issues and experiences. so many stories.
so today, one of the speakers (of 3) was called home unexpectedly last night due to a family emergency. one was delayed inexplicably on his way thru the border and checkpoints traveling from mexico early this morning. the third speaker had not arrived yet, so we were treated to an impromptu talk by holly near about how to keep hope alive over the many many years that she has been engaged in peace and social justice work. one of the stories she shared was to be prepared. to create a personal "tool box" so to speak, because one never knows when we will be in a situation where there is a confrontation or a teachable moment. so how will we respond? what will we do? what will we say? how will we approach "common ground" with another who may be far from our personal or political perspective? what tools will we reach for and use? we must think about this in advance she urged, so we will be ready, because you never know when that moment will come....in line at the grocery store? or, for example, like happened to her one day in a busy crosswalk in NYC...she was beside a mom with a toddler, 2, maybe 3 at most, and the child wasn't walking fast enough so the mom reached back and hit the baby so he would walk faster. holly was so surprised but immediately thought it was a parenting moment that she wished she could respond to in some helpful way, but she wasn't sure how or what to do or what to say. but ahead of them, at the corner, there was a Jamaican street musician, his long dreadlocks swirling as he sang and danced as they approached. mid song, his lyrics changed tho in his response. he sang out, without any pause from one line to the newly improvised version...."don't hit the baby, and don't hit the baby". we can speak up and speak out. we have our own ways, our own versions, it can be as simple as that, but truthful, just ringing out there for everyone to hear. be ready she urged, and also, pay attention to the invitations. because invitations can truly change our lives. we think we are just being asked to do or come or see or share one tiny event or moment or experience, but we never know how far reaching and life changing that invitation may prove to be in our perspectives, in our lives. so be ready, pay attention.
and then she and we sang, I am willing, and father sean had arrived.