This meditation was written for a Dutch Lent booklet back in 2014. Smokey Mountain II, the relocated original Smokey Mountain dump site, included a massive charcoal burning area, where many of Manila’s poorest families lived. As a place to call your home, it was probably one of the filthiest, unhealthiest places imaginable. It was closed down late 2014.
“Last week we were introducing some friends to Smokey Mountain II, a giant garbage dump in Manila. (*) A couple of young girls tagged along with our group; their particularly skinny and bedraggled appearance prompted us to ask: “Do you go to school?” One shook her head. “Where do you live? Can we talk to your parents?” we asked.
“Yes! Yes!” said she, as she scampered off. We hurriedly followed her, not wanting to lose her as we wound our way among the shacks of this ‘village’ built on and from the city’s waste, hoping our group of guests could keep up with us.
As I picked my way over the garbage, trying not to step on or in anything too nasty, once more I was also manoeuvring through my emotional world: between that abyss of dismay (people have to live this way!!) and the surprise of encouragement (their smiles!), between the stark reality of shocking poverty, and the astounding reality of those friendly faces…
Her parents weren’t home when we reached her little wooden shack on the edge of the charcoal burning area; they were on the other side of the dumpsite scavenging. We wrote down her name and details. “Do you want to go to school?” This was the most crucial of our questions. Will she take hold of this opportunity to finish her schooling, so that she can find a job later and escape the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger? Will she?
Easter: The Cross planted down in the garbage dump of our lives; God intervening in human history, in my history. What will I do? Take hold of the forgiveness and redemption offered me? This Ultimate Love Gift, costing more than I can possibly fathom. Will I take hold of it with both hands? Will I trust God to lift me up off the ash heap of my life and into His Resurrection Life? Will I?”
(*) For more about our work see: http://www.youngfocus.org