Friday, July 13, 2012

Excess Guilt

Tomorrow I will begin the trek back to one of my favorite places on earth.  Each year I return to Peru with a number of overwhelming feelings. Here are my thoughts as I embark on this journey.

I moved to a new apartment this summer.  Two thoughts plagued me during that chaotic time:
1. Why didn’t I choose a career that would allow me to afford a house sooner?
2. Why do I have SO MUCH STUFF???
With every move (and throughout the year), I make a genuine effort to pare down what I own.  I still manage to keep much more than I need.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been working to find a place for everything in my new apartment.  Once the cabinet and closet doors are closed, I tend to forget all that is behind them.

Until I visit these bedrooms
Cesar Vallejo Casa
Baby Casa
and see these shoes

and compare work environments.
the school at the Community 

Even my "necessities" (A/C, grocery money, electricity, running water) seem excessive in light of what the rest of the world has.  That's when the true disparity sets in and guilt isn't far behind.  Which leads to a time of discomfort and questioning.  

Should I sell all my possessions and give them to the poor?  Yes. 

Am I actually going to?? Not likely.

How can I continue to live like this???

When I take a moment to step back from my guilt, I am able to more clearly see the good that can come from excess.  Without my extra income (and the generous donations of friends and family), I would never have traveled to Peru. 

And it was in Peru that I met Ever.
Elias & Ever
Two years ago Ever was a helper for the casa that I worked with.  Although his English and my Spanish were limited, I was able to see his kind spirit.  Over the course of the week we managed to form a special bond.  I don't know Ever's story.  I hope to someday ask him.  

Last year it took me two days to track him down.  He was so busy with chores that he wasn’t able to participate in the activities with the rest of the kids.  On the last afternoon, he wasn’t at the farewell party.  I started asking about him again, determined to see him one more time before we left.  I looked up to see him running across the soccer field to find ME.  We hugged and danced and laughed and took pictures.  That’s when I realized the good of what my excess has done.  You see, there’s this precious teenage orphan who lives in a different hemisphere, but he knows that I love him and will to everything I can to return each summer.

So when I check my banking account or go shopping for new clothes and the wave of guilt comes back to me, I face it head on.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still be caught up in consumerism as much as the next rich person, but there are bigger things at work in my life.  And there is no room for excess guilt.

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