“A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY:
Not leaving: an act of trust and love. often deciphered by children.”
These words strike a like a mainline to the heart, from a hundred angles.
The power of words can move one to tears: a certain shift in perspective, a connection of beauty, a recognition of a truth one believes with all one’s knowing, a resonance with an experience of life.
Sometimes the smallest acts and offerings are our greatest kindnesses.
I think of Raimundo, traveling with his sons from some small village in the state of Rio Branco, Brazil. He passes them off to strangers, who take his small sons into the foreign worlds of operating rooms, sewing back together the clefts in their palates that keep them from being whole. When they wake up from anesthesia, he is there.
I think of the young adults in Mississippi and Arkansas, working for Save The Children, returning to burnt out, prejudiced, tired and frayed communities to mentor children younger than themselves, showing a pathway out.
I photographed Roberto, in Maine, the Colombian street kid whose life was changed dramatically with his own adoption and migration to the U.S., who ended up embracing every new immigrant child he later met in Portland Maine, children from Somalia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Serbia, Guatemala, Vietnam.
All these stories of kindness, and connection, small acts of simple grace.
But what happens when leaving happens instead of not leaving? This question haunts me. Can a late in life reparation- like the surgeries that bridge these children’s structural gaps- cross over the distance, healing what has never felt whole?
Cameras and words skim over the surface, wondering, seeking, searching for answers that lie buried beyond years. If what is missing in your life was a belief in yourself that was never instilled by others- than turn that lacking into a passion that shifts that chasm for other young people, towards hearts full of hope.
Its’ my own heart’s belief that all good things in this world grow with patience, and time, with depth, quietness, and a deep humility. First is one’s own sense of peace, solid foundations and grace. Next comes the ripple in the world that you will send out towards others, all part of the same weave of life as ourselves. A friend passed on a blog which reminded me of this quote about doing any kind of aid work:
“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.’”
One of the main characters in Zusak’s novel has “silver eyes of kindness” . His incredibly brave, direct acts of kindness go unnoticed by much of the world he lives within, and are, in fact, in Nazi Germany, shunned and at times berated. But his ripple of goodness he left behind saved two lives of quiet goodness. Perhaps it is enough to see the world through silver eyes of kindness, and use that view to stretch oneself towards the good you can do in a handful of lives.