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Blurring Broken Hearts

There is so much to see. Too much to spend any respectable amount of time upon. My wife Rhiannon and I had the make a flying visit to the border of Cambodia and Vietnam a few days ago, we had to change our visa over, and the only way to do that is to leave the Country, and then reenter with the correct visa. We didn’t want to take any time away from our work here, so we decided to do the whole trek in one day, and traveled by bus so as to save some money, and to see more of the sights Cambodia has to offer.

As scenery flew past the window, unfamiliar sights blurred with the vibrant greens of the vegetation. The constant swerves of the bus, around potholes, and rival traffic, had a sense of rhythm about it, at least enough so that I didn’t fear for my or Rhannon’s life, too much. We traveled past road side stalls – little more than a tarp and simple goods, we also saw homes made of tree bark, with children playing in dried rice patty fields – with out clothes, and anything to play with but their imaginations. There is so much to soak in, so many people, with smiles, and stories, and hardships, living in parts of the world, in which I am passing at 60 kms and hour, barely registering their presence. I’ve been on this bus before, the surroundings may have been different, and the situation less foreign, but I know what it feels like to be moving so much that everything else seems to blur. I’ve spent a long time blocking out ‘distractions’, and focusing on personal or business goals. I love moving forward, I enjoy moving towards the horizon, to doing new things, and stretching beyond four walls, but at the same time, I frightens me to think of who and what I am keeping in my peripheral, of the things I ignore in the name of progress.

I believe that movement is a key of healthy life, although, I’m beginning to see that I’ve used the speed of my life as an excuse, as a way to block things out, to only give time to the things I’ve felt a sense of control over. Its overwhelming, all the need, the poverty, and pain, the polite smiles covering despairing expressions, every part of it overloads the normal systems of response, leaving few options, other than to keep the bus moving, keep the brokenness blurred.

The other week, I interviewed a young man for a case study; the young man heads up a major organization, with a focus upon helping Cambodian youth beat drug addictions. I spent an hour talking with him about his life, his history, and his story. My friend had spent his childhood in a palm frond hut, living with his parents and three siblings on less than a dollar a day. Sometimes just to eat, he would try to catch baby catfish in the fetid ponds surrounding his neighborhood. His is a tough story.

Later, in his early twenties, my friend started attending a free education program provided by a local church, he learnt English, office skills, and computer use. Through the support, and the care provided by the various people who had gotten off their buses long enough to offer assistance, he has been able to break free from poverty, and assist his own family. Along the way, men and women have stopped passing by, and have taken the time to walk through life with him, leaving him more equipped, and better able to thrive.

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It can be hard making sense of the cries for help. Each cry represents a person, or community, precious and priceless. But when I’ve tried to take it all in, the voices have blurred, they have blended, and with sadness, and with out clarity, I’ve kept moving, my bus swerves, and I am aiming for the horizon.

Slowly, my priorities are changing, and I love the fact that sometimes all people need is someone willing to share the journey with. I may not be able to offer any answer for the overwhelming situations, but I can stop and share myself with people, walk a while with them, love, bless, laugh, cry, then as they are moving along fine, hug, part, and look to the horizon, for the next stop.  I’m just beginning to see that as I chose to move forward in this manner my capacity is growing – there is more room to my vision. The cries are still utterly overwhelming, but the individual faces I am learning to put with the cries are helping me to have perspective, as well as a hint of hope to my travels.

There are so many organizations doing great works, changing and improving entire communities, and the last thing I want to do is take anything away from them, or the people who support them, but I am loving the grassroots stories—of people who have decided to give themselves, who have committed to giving their skills, abilities, passions, and love—to the individuals who are easy to swerve past, who would have been recognized only as a blur, had someone not stopped, and brought some much needed clarity.

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