Monday, June 29, 2009

Attendance: the spiritual discipline

Peggy Senger Parsons' ( new book is out! Ordering information in the June 6th blog (You need this book. If you doubt me, read a few of the "So, there I was.." blogs from the archives).

The second story is about the spiritual discipline of attendance, or paying attention on two levels, and I wish to talk about an instance (all too rare for me) where I was able to participate in a sort of double play. While our team was in Baja we were able to visit a Campesino facility to play with the children. I would like you to note that these places are the ones OUR campesinos leave in order to improve their lives by coming here. All the kids were beautiful, and lively and happy to see us..... except one. A boy about 10, and he was miserable, refused all the advances the other kids made to him and was not coming near our team members. I happened to come face to face with him about 10 feet away and smiled and greeted him. For a moment his eyes seemed to light, but then he was having none of it. I sat down on a bench nearby to enjoy the play, a viejo a little too tired for the piggy back rides and activity involved in a field of energy that would have powered a city it seemed to me. In a short while, our young miserable came and sat beside me and leaned up against me. I just acknowledged his presence and shared my bench with him. It turned out that he had a bad cough, and I, unfortunately, shared that too for the time, though I was nowhere near as miserable as he was. After awhile he wandered off and I watched the kids, greeting, smiling and refusing piggy back rides. Shortly, I became aware of two small boys a little distance away who were squaring off and I decided quickly to meddle. As I got closer I saw the look of fear and of grim determination to put up the best fight he knew how on the face of one boy. As I got near enough, that boy was the one closest and I scooped him up, turning him practically upside down in the process, and took him back to my bench. God alone knows what he thought was happening to him, but I tried to let him see my smile. I sat him on my lap at the bench and hugged him briefly, hoping to let him know that he was not going to be punished and he was free to go or stay. He stayed. I don't know whether I did right or not, but i do know that my miserable friend came back, smiled, patted me once and sat down beside me again. The other little boy came by, trying to torment the boy on my lap, and when i would not let him do so punched and kicked me, refusing attempts to show friendliness to him. This went on for a little while, and awhile after that the boy on my lap left. Another young lady whgo spoke Spanish appreciated the quietness on our bench and sat with us, conversing wth my friend and closing that language gap. Before we left, my friend was smiling and telling his friends how we had scratched his back for him.
I guess part of my reason for telling you this is that I need you to help me pray. Not so much for all the beautiful children, though they could sure use it. Nor for the boy on my lap; I think he has a lot going for him even in his situation. Not even for my friend with the cough, though it was a bad cough. But for the little boy who seemed to know no way to relate but in anger and dominance; he has a hard, hard life to live.


  1. Yes, that's it exactly. Being a witness, but a witness who is willing to meddle. We will make mistakes, but we will make a difference. Often we will never know what the difference truly was.

    thee was faithful

  2. What a lovely post. I'll hold the boys in the light.