Middle East Journal Entry, Day 3 (September 23)
“Radical union with God and neighbor is our starting place, not private perfection.” –Richard Rohr
On this day, our team made paintings with kids who had been forced to flee Sudan and Syria. These sweet children made this art in response to the question, “Who is your neighbor?”
Later in the day we went to a slum neighborhood, intending to do a similar project with the kids who lived there. Simply getting the kids in the village to fold a paper airplane proved a challenge. Instead, they ran around yanking out ponytails. As I knelt on the dirty ground, surrounded by ten little girls braiding and un-braiding my hair, I looked up at the sky with unpolished joy. Tears streamed from my sweaty face as I realized that this was what it meant to be radically united with my neighbor.
Both the kids from the refugee class and from the slum village had been dealt a set of difficult circumstances. Some had to flee their homes; others had a terrible home in which to dwell. Yet the refugee kids were receiving many more support resources and were much better behaved.
How can we remain united with our neighbors–whether our home is stable or transient, clean or barely liveable? How would recognizing our communion with all people provide a different foundation than trying to perfect ourselves within the boxes we have created?