Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cry Without Weeping

I have written about the fun times, the crazy times, and even the hope and inspiration I have found here. But I have written little on the absolute and real poverty that you come in contact with, day in and day out.

This last month could best be described as a time where many times, I am crying without weeping. At last, I wept. I visited an orphanage close to my house for the first time that day. This is my journal entry from that experience.

160 kids, a handful of exhausted employees. Papa, mira aqui. Por favor papa. There are no words that could ever explain the emotions that run through your veins, when, despite your limited Spanish, you understand quite well that these orphans are calling you dad as they cling onto you, thirsty for attention, and even more, hungry for you to take them home. You want to cry on the spot, but you can´t, because you are here to somehow help. So the games go on, the smile more difficult, and the questions more persistent ¨please dad, take me home with you.¨

An hour later I found myself in a room with 30 babies, and 3 employees. A baby cries from the floor, in front of my feet, as I bend down to pick her up, precious little eyes look into mine, and at the slightest touch, the crying ceases. Others around her begin crying, and as I move to pick up the next, the one I was just holding lets out an incredible scream of anguish. And so I stand in the middle of this ¨nursery¨, looking at the babies, dirt and helpless, innocent and yet, in some ways, already ruined, and am forced to make an agonizing decision. Who do you pick up and help, and who do you leave on the floor, screaming and wailing for attention? I have seen some pretty bad realities and yet, nothing will ever prepare a person for the first time they are forced into that decision. And so I reach for the child lying on the floor nearest to my feet, and as he stops crying, I finally begin. There is no build up to this moment, just a flood of emotions that comes crashing through all the defenses I have built up over the month, a sudden, honest, vulnerable release of emotion.

I go home after my time volunteering and at dinner, find myself feeling lonely just by the loneliness I witnessed. At dinner with the whole extended family present, my host sister asks me why I am sad. I am preoccupied studying the face of my host niece, a girl who looks just like another girl I played with in the orphanage. One girl showered with abundant love, the other, void of any. I look up at my sister and I know the expression on my face said that I wanted to tell them everything. But instead of a flow of words, a flow of tears and a voice desperate to scream out, but trapped within by my limitations. I want to tell these people everything, but sadly, I don´t have the language capabilities to express emotion yet, and so I can say nothing, only cry unashamedly before running out the door and into even more lonely streets of impoverishment.

This was my toughest day in Bolivia. Make no mistake, I am happy here. Uninvited, but truly called I believe. But day by day, poco a poco, I expect to find more answers and instead am confronted only with questions and more questions. And so, I don´t know. I have no brilliant insights to share with you today, only incredible frustration, which in the end, is really nothing more than incredible sadness, incredible pain. I came across a quote that said ¨glass shines better when its broken.¨ Metaphorically it sounds great, realistically, I can only hope its true for those kids, and day by day, for myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is times like these that you realize you are only one person, and although you’re pretty good about spreading yourself evenly with others to fulfill their needs, this is probably the one time when you want to give your whole self to one being, and are stuck with the idea that no matter how hard you try, there is no way you could ever choose or ever do enough for these kids….its like falling in love at first sight, and then being broken hearted for the rest of your life because no matter what you do or say, you will never be enough for these little angels from above…. - Me :)