I have a variety of thoughts running through my head today.
Yesterday, I attended an afternoon activity at Trama Textiles. It is an organization run by women who make various things --purses, table cloths, blankets, even clothes-- by hand. We learned the meticulous process that is done to create all these textiles. It takes a large amount of time to make their products as they are done with care, and again, are hand made.
Some items, like shirts, take as long as two months to complete. Scarves, on the other hand, take somewhere between 8 hours and 10 hours to complete. They are sold for around 40 Quetzales or just under 6 US dollars. Frequently, people will barter with the vendors and try to buy them cheaper than this. The payoff for all their hard work is very little, yet they still try to support themselves and work to create community.
While visiting, the lady told us about the plight --one that mirrors so many around the world-- of the children in Guatemala. She spoke about the injustices of children going without shoes, of having to wear clothes that are ripped and torn because their parents can't afford to buy new ones for them. She told us about the niñas who must eat on the floor while their brothers and father have a place at the table because their fathers' refuse them a place, simply because they are female.
And what happens to those same niñas if their mother dies while they are young? Must they then take on the responsibilities for cooking and cleaning? Where is the fairness in a culture where it becomes better to use your children to sell homemade trinkets rather then allow them to attend school?
I began to despair. Where is God in all of this? Where is God during domestic violence? Where is God when children and others get diseases from not wearing shoes? Where is God when people struggle to survive and we still bargain for a lower price? Where is God when it floods? Are you f---ing there God? Because we are here and everyday there are people who suffer, who don't have enough, who struggle to survive.
And then it happened.
I was with my teacher and a few others, on our way to the museum during class, and there was a parade in the park. Ironically, it was a parade celebrating the goodness and graciousness of God. There were elderly, children, indigenous, and a variety of people who all came to celebrate. A large processional went by with no less than 10 flags of various Saints each supported by their own group of people, followed then by young altar boys burning incense in front of a carried figure of Jesus. All of this was followed by a band playing trumpets, tubas and drums.
All of a sudden I realized: This is like Haiti. There is so much suffering, but they still have hope and when life puts pressure on them they bend, not break. Perhaps a better question to ask rather than "Where is God?" is "Where are we?"
We have the ability to help one another. We have the ability to provide shoes to children. We have the ability to care about a person living in abusive home. We have the ability to help people survive in this world.
It is not just God who carries the responsibility of the world's happiness, but it is our responsibility as well. Who bakes the bread we must share with each other? Is it not by our own hands and in our own ovens? God gives us community to be able to care about the story of another. It is impossible to help each and every person by ourselves, but as a community we can support each other.
If the women of Trama textiles --who sell their scarves and labor for $2/hour-- can help the children of their community, Where are we who have so much more?
Where are we in all of this? Where are we during domestic violence? Where are we when children and others get diseases from not wearing shoes? Where are we when people struggle to survive and we still bargain for a lower price? Where are we when it floods? Are you there? Because everyday there are people who suffer, who don't have enough, who struggle to survive.
It is not a lack of God's intervention. It is a lack of our own intervention. God will not abandon us. Not a single one of us. Ever. Let us not abandon those who need our help.