Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holy Family

Many things have happened: Thanksgiving was a wonderful event even if the turkey didn't get cooked all the way, December and Advent have been nothing short of beautiful experiences (albeit very challenging at times), and all of a sudden, quick as the madness began, it stopped. Here I am, the day after Christmas, one of maybe 40 people in Ciudad...about 15% of the normal population. I won't see most of those kids ever again, and while I almost started crying when Hermano Hugo called us up at Mass on Saturday night to be given a farewell blessing, I was glad to see these boys go. I was glad to see them walk confidently and happily out of the pabellón into the promise of a summer that won't be as carefree as one might hope, but in any case is summer. The promise of summer is a privilege whose full benefits, I think, are reserved for those in the academic sphere. The passage of time has helped the boys be confident: having a few months just being in your own skin while the changes of puberty start really setting in help tremendously. Knowing the routine, going from a new kid to a veteran, having the swagger of being "not freshman" and/or "upperclassmen"...I know the self-assurance such happenings can give a teenager, and I had a bit of pride to see the boys I'd seen as short, awkward kids walk out as not-quite-as-short, almost-confident-in-social-situations teenagers.

It'd be arrogant to think "My work is done," because a lot of that work is the natural course of time unfolding; I was merely a witness and cheerleader, adding the occasional formational remark. It was sad for me, and will be sad'll hit more when I'm on the plane heading to the States, and more so when I realize that I can't just strike up conversation with whatever gringo is around about the ridiculousness of these boys and have them truly understand from sharing that same root experience of being in this place. I know that even in the midst of coming home, even in the midst of being welcomed back, of coming back to people who've been missing me, I'll be struggling with feeling very alone. I'm coming back a different person with different experiences, a different diet and different preferences; people will rely on my description of Jhon to form an image of him, unable to just draw on their knowledge of his quick-as-a-whip friendly tongue-in-cheek from encountering him in the kiosco. This is very tangential. The point is that as I feel more alone, as I feel my time in a community in which I've become comfortable comes to a close, the realization that I might not ever see these boys again will become more acute. And that's the way of things, and I'll fight the negativity tooth and nail and work on being grateful and trusting God as the time comes.

Now to the point of my post: Today's the Feast of the Holy Family. I could go on at length, but I'll let this suffice: Like those of the Holy Family: In every one of our relationships, may we have the Father as our first father, the Son as the first child born of the relationship, and the Spirit as our first lover.

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