Letters in the Sand / Letras en la Arena

Alexis

The buckets need to be filled.

The wheel barrows need to be dumped.

The blocks need to be stacked.

The mezcla needs to be mixed.

The walls need to go up.

And here I sit . . . on the dusty arid land, being careful to avoid the bits of thrown away “stuffs” of others.

Across from me, sits a lovely wide-eyed 6 year old with a smile that never ceases. We sit just outside of the ring of organized chaos that is building a home for his aunt, uncle, and two cousins. But we could just as easily be miles away, as we are so intent on what we are doing, we cannot be distracted.

Even though neither of us speaks the other’s language, we understand each other.

He brought to our little party what looked like a wooden chair spindle that he had found sticking out of a concrete block. I show him how to write in the arena with the ‘pencil’. I write out the letters of my name one at a time, K-r-i-s-t-i-n, as he attempts to sound them out. He then takes his turn with our shared pencil and writes the letters of his name, upside down, so they are right reading to me, A-l-e-x-i-s, with a precision and accuracy that I have never mastered.

I had taken a respite from the filling and dumping and stacking and mixing to draw letters in the sand.

We adjourn our meeting in the sand and reconvene in the 2 square feet of shade along the concrete block wall. I removed my earrings as Alexis watched. He moved his face within inches of mine. He stood perfectly still, while staring at my ears. I had no idea what he was doing or thinking. He finally broke his gaze and walked over toward his abuela. He returned with a small metal tin, which I thought he found in one of the many trash piles around, and handed it to me. I wasn’t able to remove the lid so he returned to his grandmother for her assistance. He walked back to me with the seriousness of someone much older. He then very deliberately took a small fingerful of the salve contained in the tin and smoothed it on each of the holes in my earlobes with the gentleness of butterfly wings. He cared for me.

What a gift I had received for just taking time to write letters in the sand.

Now I am home and day-in and day-out . . .

The clothes need to be washed.

The rugs need to be vacuumed.

The meals need to be cooked.

Although the filling, dumping, stacking, mixing, washing, vacuuming, and cooking are so very important, it is the connecting with each other that rewards the soul beyond measure.

I hope I can remember to take a moment every now and then to again draw letters in the sand.

Written by Kristin Dinwiddie of Cove Presbyterian Church in Covesville, Virginia.

Posted in Reflections