What do you do after a long day of concrete-making?

October 20, 2012

…You learn that a machete is actually much harder to work with than it appears–pick axes, too, are much harder than I’d ever imagined.

The ancient supervisor who was guiding us, showed the teens how to use machetes: to watch him work them, you would think that machetes were simplistic yet sharp.  When I finally put my hand to the machete, I was stymied.  It was awkward and the bending over to swish it as you flicked your arm/wrist quickly resulted in a painful back.

Machetes, however, match nicely with this entry from my journal: “All of life is about being born–birthing into our fullness of being. When you come into rhythm with your nature, things happen of themselves.” See, the thing about machetes, is that as you use them in the correct way, as you use the stick to gather the grass so you can swipe at the roots, you come into rhythm. It’s the rhythm of the machete, of machete-ness. And, let me tell you, it’s a sweet rhythm: grass piles up in the clumps that we see in the United States, usually leftover from lawnmowers; the swing of your arm and your body align into motion that’s seamless.  This was the same motion from the concrete buckets assembly line of the day before, a motion that my body knew, even though I’d never ever picked up a machete or swung concrete buckets.  And in that smooth motion, is a sweet spot of productivity, of ease, of quality.

My time with Alta Gracia was also in rhythm with my nature.  Another entry from my journal reads, “I know what I’m called to: connecting with people, loving them, listening to their stories, teaching them, and learning from them”  and  “little things with great love can go far.”

I had heard snippets of Alta Gracia’s story from both Jen and John; I knew that it had power and grace. I knew that more than knowing from them that her story was incredible, I wanted to ask her to share with me.

Alta Gracia worked at St. Francis Coll. She seemed to be the go to lady to get things done, although I still don’t quite understand exactly what her job there was.  Before she had worked at the school, Alta Gracia had worked in the garbage dump.  She shared with me about working in the trash and gathering enough so that her children could eat, yet going without food herself. Her family was large and her husband, I think, was dead.  She cried as she shared–her tears were strongest as she told me how all of that changed when she began work at St. Francis Coll.  Her children attended school and now were studying at college.  Several of them still were in attendance.

Alta Gracia and I had smiled at each other throughout the week, however we hadn’t actually spoken.  The connection to her reminded me of the mothers that I know here in the US, who struggle to feed their children.  We are not so different, perhaps, as we sometimes think.

Not tomorrow, but the day after, I want to tell you about Juana, Maria, and the kids from sexto; I spent my morning with them prior to working with the machetes.  What an eyeopener.  Children speak so much more freely than adults do.

One Response to “What do you do after a long day of concrete-making?”

  1. […] The day I worked with machetes began with an opportunity to sit in with classes at St. Francis Coll for half of us (the other half went to the nursery); I went to the school, as my Spanish was a bit better than Jen’s, and she accompanied the other group to the nursery. We dispersed the teenagers and the other adult into classrooms with children in them, and I waited in the library for about 15 minutes until the 6th graders returned from their physical education class (really, just playing soccer). […]

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