“There are some things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”
“Hay muchas cosas que sólo pueden ser vistas a través de ojos que han llorado.”
They are words from Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Standing in the church where he was martyred in 1980 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-31115837), these words almost feel like an invitation. Or perhaps a challenge.
Will you look?
Will you see?
Will you notice the pain and suffering and injustice around you?
Will you turn away?
Or, will you gaze through your tears? And in the midst of your own pain and brokenness, find ways to engage with love and compassion?
It has become increasingly clear to me through my work with NPH that tears are sacred. To be honored, rather than quickly wiped away or hidden. As we have developed this program in Seattle over the past four years, the importance of accompanying our pequeños/as as they look at their life story has become central. We are blessed with the space, time, and good people that allow this to happen to whatever extent each participant is able – we meet them where they are.
What is becoming clear is that this work, this hard and scary and beautiful work, is helping them make significant changes in their lives. It can feel slow and painful, and there have been times when I have questioned it, worried about it, wondered if we were inviting harm rather than good.
And so when I read these words, they impacted me deeply – for I have seen the truth in them. Through my tears, shed over my own brokenness and over the brokenness I witness in our kids, I have seen things I could not see before. Tears that were held in for many years, when finally released and blessed – have brought deeper relationships and a new capacity to love.
Through their own tears, the pequeños/as have come to recognize a resilience and beauty that is stronger than they knew. I have seen them realize their own ability to offer healing to each other and to others. Through art and storytelling, they have seen each other and themselves in new ways, inviting them to personal growth and transformation and ultimately to a life in which they can better serve others because they know who they are and they know how to love well.
My recent trip to NPH El Salvador reminded me that change is possible and hope is with us. I watched graduates of our Seattle program facilitate sessions for the younger pequeños/as, lead activities, answer questions, and participate in high level educational planning meetings. They were both engaged and courageous and I felt so proud of them and hopeful for our future as an NPH family.
But perhaps my most precious hour with them was our first afternoon at NPH El Salvador as we sat together in rocking chairs in the shade outside the house. How beautiful to have time for them to speak honestly and listen to each other about what is happening in their lives in their home countries. Their integrity and love for each other and for NPH is beautiful.
As our Seattle program continues to grow, we must remember the importance of this deep personal work. And that stepping into it ultimately empowers our kids to use their lives for the good of the world.
What change will they make? Whose life might they save? Where will they bring hope where before there was none? We don’t yet know. What I do know is that their willingness to look at the world through eyes that have cried makes them more compassionate, more authentic, and more humble leaders for a world that in desperate need of them.
-Kara King, Program Director