Compassion and Solidarity

The first time I truly learned what solidarity meant was from my mother. A family at our church had lost their young girl, and my parents were going to her funeral. I remember I had to babysit for another couple that was going as well, and I told my mom, “I’m glad I have to babysit because going to that funeral would be too hard.”

I remember my mother, in her loving way, reassuring me that it was most definitely not about myself, but that it was about showing compassion and sharing in the suffering of our community.

The second time I learned about solidarity was from my Guatemalan brothers and sisters, unfortunately also from the death of a child. My dear friend Sandra’s niece passed away only one week after she entered this world. I remember the sadness of that week of her life as her family cared for her, and how cruel their treatment was in the hospital because of their race and class. I also remember the funeral.

In Guatemalan villages, wakes last for about 24 hours in the family’s home. Family and friends grieve, and neighbors and community members come and bring food, embrace in long hugs and weep together. Following the wake, the body is carried to the church where they have the service. The family then carries the coffin overhead in a community procession through the streets, to the cemetery where the person will be buried.

Watching a tiny coffin being carried by a grieving mother is one of the most heartbreaking things I have witnessed in my entire life. But, what I also witnessed was that the mother didn’t carry the coffin alone—she lifted and carried the tiny body with the help of her village.

Together they carried the pain, sorrow, injustice and heartache.

These moments taught me so much. If you have visited Guatemala, I am sure you also learned about the importance of relationships and human connection—Guatemalans are fabulous teachers in this area. In a world that continues to hurt, it is important to act out of both solidarity and compassion with our brothers and sisters, near and around the globe.

I hope that I can continue to live this out in my own life and to carry other burdens (1), to hurt alongside my community (2), to make judgments based on truth, justice and peace (3) and to speak up for those less privileged than myself (4).

Thank you to each and every one of you who have demonstrated solidarity and compassion with the families we work with in Guatemala. Your support is one way that they tangibly feel and know Divine love.

May you be blessed,

“Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.” -Charles Spurgeon

1. Galatians 6:2   |  2. 1 Corinthians 12:26   |   3. Zachariah 8:16   |  4. Proverbs 31:8