Friday, February 15, 2013

come and see

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?"  He said to them, "Come and see." (John 1:35-39a)

Every other Friday or so, I mentor a group of 10th graders who are enrolled in the Global Studies Academy at the local high school. This is my second year with these kids, and it is always an enjoyable challenge (or is it a challenging joy?) While I, or the co-mentor, might come in with a 'lesson plan,' it is always interesting to see what the kids want to talk about.

This week, it was mainly about the recent trip the group had taken to Washington, D.C. They were impressed with the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument; they liked visiting the Air and Space Museum; they were appropriately awed by the Vietnam Wall and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They were not so impressed with the White House tour (they couldn't touch anything, sit anywhere, and had to be careful of what words they said aloud) or with the Capitol Building. They liked the tours at the Pentagon but were definitely NOT impressed with the cost of everything in that city.

And then, I am not sure how it happened, someone mentioned the trip to the Heifer Global Village the group visited last year. This is a place where visitors discover the challenges which face people who live in poverty and hardship. It is a center the visitor is 'placed' into a 'village' where there may not be enough water, may not be enough food, may not be sanitary conditions, may not be like the lives these kids have at home. They are challenged to work cooperatively, to come up with solutions not just for themselves but for their entire community, to discover more sustainable ways of living. It is not much fun, according to one of the kids, who had been in the 'refugees' group last year, whose ioilet was a hole in the ground.

So, one of us asked, do you plan to go back to Washington at some point? NO was the firm and unanimous answer.  Would you go back to the Heifer Village was the next, natural question. And it seemed that for most of them, they would go in a heartbeat.

Not to the seat of national and international power, but to a village about powerlessness; not to a center of great wealth, but to where they discovered more than they ever knew about poverty; not to rub elbows with the movers and shakers of our world, but to learn how to be in solidarity with those the world blithely ignores more and more with each passing day.

And in that moment, in that answer, I imagined Jesus simply smiling and nodding his head, whispering, "Yes!"

© 2013 Thom M. Shuman

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