Look carefully at the picture. We are all smiling – mostly. It’s a beautiful picture. However apart from the opportunities for photo ops we were left with much more than memories of our trip. There were so many lessons that we learned that day. At first it seemed such a simple, uneventful journey into Kingston. But nothing is ever simple; the trip became a gift that will keep on giving.
Many of us faced the reality of our own fragility and took comfort in our, ‘ordinariness’; yes I just made that up. I say ordinary because if we take an objective look at ourselves, we may feel that there is nothing really outstanding about our lives, our features, our mannerism and our accomplishments. when we compare this with the residents of the homes we visited we realize that being ordinary can be the right remedy for us to maintain some measure of sanity in a crazy world. Many of us were apprehensive about our reception, but once we started interacting with the residents, the mood lightened. The awkwardness was eventual replaced by laughter, giggles, clapping and a generally festive mood.
But to understand the investment of those involved, we have to reflect on all the hard work done by, those teachers involved, students and the Guidance counselors; the end product was surely worth all the planning and phone calls made. There was the conventional and unconventional photo shoot locations for the calendar package organised by the Red Cross Society , the relentless food and clothes drive by the Peer Counsellors. Even the humble donations of toiletries that we do not give a second thought to led by the Lay Chaplain; those basic things that seem to always be there when we need them, mattered. Just go to the supermarket, the shop down the road, round the corner. Always available. Until they are not.
But we never think about losing any of what we have. Not until we are about to lose them – if we see it coming. But usually, not until they have already gone. It wasn’t that the tables on which the offerings were displayed, were buckling under the weight of the gifts. It was that persons had taken the time to carefully and lovingly display all they had collected. It was an impressive display of the most ordinary things, carefully packaged afterward for distribution. For many of us they would seem to be ordinary gifts, nothing special. But those gifts gave us a reason to appreciate the ordinary things that we take for granted. They made it possible for us to learn from some extraordinary people, who just lived their purpose; both those who care for the children and the disabled and those who have the chance to receive the kind of care that is their right, against all odds.
As we left The Potters House, which was our final stop, there were discussions of making next year even bigger and better, invites to come on board and a deep sense of humility in being given the opportunity, to be in the presence of treasures we often overlook . We had a purpose. This journey had to continue.