The other day I was walking home from work. Some of my neighbors were shovelling in some fill- rocks and dirt- into their house. I decided to stop and help out, and get back into my days of at Obriens Landscaping.
We were shovelling the rocks into 5 gallon buckets and then running the buckets behind their house. As I passed by the house, I ducked to avoid splitting my forehead open by the low and rusty tin roof. As I passed to the back of the house, I saw the reason for the rocks. The rainy season has caused this family to live with a pond right outside their cane house, inside their wooden fence. And thats why we were shovelling, to fill in the pond so the water could drain into the street.
As they descibed how bad the bugs were and how smelly the stagnent water was, I was disallusioned by my previous blog entries. All that writing of the water, romantically describing how the streets are alive with fish, frogs, and noise. How different do my neighbors view the water! The reality for them is much different than the illusion of a one year volunteer. A sore back. Heat. Water. Constant building. Constant fear of flooding. So as I spent the evening shovelling and running buckets of rock, I realized Ghandi´s statement ¨ I cannot imagine anything nobler or more national than that for, say, one hour in the day we should all do the labor the poor must do, and thus identify ourselves with them and through them, with all mankind.¨
Day by day, I am learning to take off my glasses. The glasses of perceptions and judgments I view the world with. The glasses of division of race, class, country, sex, and education need to come off.
And this is a daily practice that proves to be very challenging. The other morning, on the crowded bus, I caught myself passing judgments. I caught myself with my judgmental glasses on. As I judged the street vendor aggressively selling candy. Or the women who I judged based on their appearence. Or the highschoolers I judged based on their uniforms and friends. It is so easy to fall into the trap of categorizing people from far away. It is so easy to falsely perceive people, especially strangers, when you are wearing your glasses of judgement.
What a sad busride that was! How disconnected I was from everyone who got on my bus. But what I came come to learn, as the Truth, is that we need to practice finding the best out of strangers. Not hating the street vendor who shoves candy in your face everyday, but to Love. Respect, and be compassionate towards him. So after being ashamed about how judgmental I was in the beginning of the bus ride, I received Grace, and looked to every stranger as a member of my family. This is the Grace of God, that brings unity to everyone. It is inclusive, as God is in us all. Every stranger was binded to me. The stranger next to me transformed into my aunt. Still a stranger, but now, part of my family. The next three girls that passed by were my sisters carrying my nephew. My uncle looked at me, ready to go to work. What a hardworking uncle I have! The street vendor turned into my brother. He had some unfortunate circumstances, but Im glad to see him working every day on this bus. To concretize this practice, I gave everyone a name. Everyone has a name, and we easily forget this simple truth! It sounds crazy, but that busride was transformative. I felt connected- more so than I ever have been to a group of stangers. With my new insight, I saw the best of everyone- I recieved Grace, to view stangers as brethren, and to see that we are in the same human family.