A Humble Witness: Guatemala 2014 Reflection

Thurs, Feb 6

A few days after returning home from Guatemala, I took some time to write a reflection about the experience. It is both an expression of my experience and a gift to the other members in my group. By this evening all of them will have seen it so I feel like I can share it more broadly now.

A Humble Witness

Roosters crow here too
But here their cry lasts longer, more desperate
Like they already know no one is listening.

The air pierced with the stench of dirt
Of decaying food, rubbish, and despair
And what is burning?

Travelers quiet as they breathe it all in
Jovial bus fun quickly evaporates
Like the steam rising up from the burning garbage
And just like hope – poof, it’s gone.

Spectators walk while flies buzz faces
Giving stray canines a break from scratching
No child will scratch his belly

And no child will mourn the cat
Surrendered too soon in the sun
No box buried in the backyard with a love note attached
No tears shed
Except for mine

Visitors enter meager homes
Square footage equal to the rich man’s entry way
But this welcome is more sincere

Six people lay their heads on one mattress
While hotels sell their king sized beds for one
With a suite that would dwarf this dwelling

Children cling while mother sings
Of praises and dreams for them.
Hope drips from her smile as
Light dances in her eyes

Inspiration warms hearts
Beads of sweat dot noses
And tears sting their eyes

Stench overwhelms and birds swarm
Announcing arrival to a place of doom
Nothing is good here

Onlookers watch as people run
Trucks drive in and workers follow
Like children running after the ice cream truck
Pictures snap on smart phones
Quickly becoming a moment in time or a facebook post
But a life sentence to others

A good day means about $3.00
Same as my grande skinny mocha latte – no whip,
in a paper cup
Gives new meaning to “disposable” income

But we need new brushes, rollers, and drop cloths
To do this job properly
Can’t we just make a stop at Lowes?

Painted walls, drippy floors, finished tasks
A lasting legacy.
But just being here
In this place that everyone forgot
In this place where hope hides in the crevices of mother’s hearts and the lessons plans of teachers
That is the gift
The gift of presence

Cause once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it
What will be your choice now?
How will you share?
This gift of being a humble witness.

One thought on “A Humble Witness: Guatemala 2014 Reflection”

  1. Absolutely beautiful and written from your heart–which brings tears to my already swollen eyes. Good job, Lisa!

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