Keeping with the theme of asking “Did you know”, I was reminded of a song sung by Diana Ross many years ago (yes, once again, showing my age).  The words to the song are especially poignant in these turbulent times:

Do You Know
Where you’re going to?
Do you like the things?
That life is showing you
Where are you going to?
Do you know?

Do you get?
What you’re hoping for?
When you look behind you
There’s no open doors
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?

Once we were standing still, in time
Chasing the fantasies and feeling all nice
You knew how I loved you, but my-spirit was free
Laughing at the questions
That you once asked of me

Now looking back at all we’ve had
We let so many dreams just slip through our hands
Why must we wait so long, before we see?
How sad the answers to those questions can be

Do you get?
What you’re hoping for
When you look behind you
There’s no open doors
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?

I suspect that you, like me, may not like a lot of what we see and experience today.  We are inundated with images of violence and amorality, rudeness, lack of compassion and worse.

Do you know what you’re hoping for?  On one of my Mission trips to Nicaragua, there was an experience I had that the Managua Dump which came to mind as I listened to this song once again.

The experience unfolded as follows:  I was escorting a group of adults and students to the top of a steep incline so they could see all that was unfolding in this horrific reality scene below:  garbage trucks being surrounded by the people who lived in the garbage, all trying to get first dibs.  Then as we spanned the horizon, there were scores of large turkey vultures circling overhead and periodically swooping down to attack.  There was filthy dirty sewer water below us where we watched a child his body, and there were other children following us up this hill.  We had just been informed about the children living in this area who were being trafficked to the truck drivers, others who were/are living as abandoned children and had HIV due to the human vultures in their lives, and much more.  Smoke filled the air and was creeping into our breathing space, so I wanted our visit to be brief but full of impact.  We were on our way to a clinic that we assisted in that area with supplies.

Believe me, it was a terribly emotional scene but my purpose was not to exploit our brothers and sisters who were forced to live this way.  Rather, my purpose was to expose our mission travelers to the daily life of those far less fortunate than any of us.

After a few moments, all of those with me had eyes filled with tears and their entire bodies revealed deep sadness and much righteous anger.  But my burning question was, “What are you hoping for?”  And “what are these children hoping for?”  AS the song says, “we were standing still in time”.

WE then began the steep stepping down a slippery slope of sand and gravel and as we did, I lost my footing (my knees are in very rough shape).  I was falling and my life flashed before my eyes in an instant…would anyone be able to find me if I fell into the sewer hole below us, how can I die now with so much more to do, what will my family say, what will my Congregation think, and does everyone I love know how much I love them and yes, please God, save me”.

At that precise moment, a young boy who lived in the dump and who had followed us up this hill, literally stepped in front of me and pushed me back into the arms of two of our mission fellows.  This boy, this marginalized, uneducated, hungry, poor boy moved like a gazelle and literally, saved me.  In my desire to thank him, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a $5 dollar bill, handed it to him and thanked him…believing full well that $5 was a lot of money to a hungry child who lived in the dump.  He promptly put the money back into my hand and I tried to give it to him again.  At that point, he flashed a beautiful smile and said in Spanish to me, ” One does not pay for kindness”!    And another line of the song rings true, namely, “why must we wait so long before we see”?  Why?  I wonder what that young boy hopes for, dreams for and where he is now?  I wonder if he is still alive, if he has hopes, if he still dreams?

Perhaps the best way to honor this boy, is to share his act of kindness, kindness done simply because it was the right thing to do, an act of compassion for someone he never met.  Perhaps, just perhaps, we all have a lot to learn…and every time I go to lose my footing since that day, I “look around me” somehow sensing his presence.  May I, may we, continue to hope, to dream and to seek and find ways to give others an opportunity to hope, to dream and to BE!

Live and be hope this week.

Sr. Debbie Blow, OP