I recently read an article comparing our current trends (not that I am all that trendy) with those of our parents. How we feel the compulsion, even pressure of guilt to develop a magical childhood for our children filled with activities to build their psyche and create a perfect environment to thrive. In humorous contrast, our parents would send us out “to play” which consisted of climbing trees, roaming the neighborhood like a pack of wolves eating and drinking whatever crossed our paths, and come Labor Day, we went back to school.
So as I spent this holiday morning “Monseñor Romero Day” (the Salvadoran equivalent of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, their revolutionary martyr) surfing with our intern Chad at Punta Roca (rock point…named so for good reason).
I was met by Jose after surfing at the water’s edge, as I stumbled over the slippery, urchin and barnacle encrusted rocks. He is 15, also has the day off, and was looking for a way to make a few quarters, been waiting for us to come in to help me with my board. (I will talk more about this in a later post)
He runs off with the board to the car, oblivious to the rocks, and I hop, run, and stumble as fast as I can to get off the sun baked rocks. I joke to him, “Tengo pies de un bebe.” I have babies feet. He laughs.
Chad remarks that these young boys have a much different upbringing then those of the wealthy Salvadoran families, who would never be seen without their name brand shoes. It was a cultural lesson at a whole new level of what I had been reading. With affluence and opportunity come many things: shoes, bicycles, taxi service (chauffeured by mom or dad), soccer karate or ballet practice, video screens of different sizes and types, then later smart phones, cars, college loans, careers,..all good things, but with all these benefits, do they still have baby feet, or can they walk through life on their own?
Above, Ezra and Ben are waiting at the first of 3 churches where we gave out 500+ gifts this past Christmas with Pastors Pablo and Alma Peña and their church, Angelus Templo. Kids patiently waited for a simple gift, while my boys joined in the fun for a looong day. That day, they learned patience and that blessing others is worth the effort of a long hot day.
Lessons we have learned from our rural churches. Life is worth living without shoes on. Structure, punctuality and programs have their place, but they aren’t as important as we think. Ministry and life happen as you spend time with people, unstructured time. And life teaches us a lot, but it teaches at its’ own pace as we slow down to listen.
The picture above was taken on a Sunday before our afternoon service in La Concordia. Ezra came up missing before the service began and was found about 5 houses down, chasing baby ducks. Lesson learned, not sure, but it sure made an interesting memory for another long day for the boys.
Above, Ezra and Ben make their own tie-die shirts with traditional Indigo (Añil) dye at the Casa Blanca archeological site.
Conclusion: Life is a great teacher. Though I would like to “Prepare the path for my child,” it is better that I “Prepare my child for the path.” But in reality, I don’t really know what the path will be composed of, joys, trials and confusion to be sure. Best bet is to let them engage fully in life, with or without shoes on, and as a person of faith, believe that God will teach them through life and prepare them for the path, just as he did through my parents for me.