Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Amara's sacred "Yes"

For the game of creation, my brothers (and sisters), a sacred “Yes” is needed. -Niezsche

Colombia becomes a different place when experienced through the lens of a newborn child. Amara’s life is not burdened by the knowledge of injustice, haunting regret, the memory of impunity, or the pain of torture inflicted.

Colombia is a fresh, dew-sparkled world to be explored.

(photo caption: Amara thoroughly enjoys being diaper free. The effect of her newest smile/ squeal/ nose scrunch combination is curiously reminiscent of a highly pleased piglet.)

With the exception of kicking with the freedom of nudity, Amara loves nothing more than going for walks. She peers out of her carrier with her hands clenching the outer swatch of cloth, her eyes wide and her mouth in a perfect circle. She’s impressed.

The world is observed with awe, until the newness of this vast place overwhelms and baby Amara falls into a peaceful sleep.

Smiles and coos convey her content as she “converses” with us. She trusts. When she cries, it is because she is needy. No manipulation or false pretenses. While she is not a placid baby, many little ones are innately what Colombians would call “uncomplicated.”

The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes. For the game of creation, my brothers (and sisters), a sacred “Yes” is needed. (Niezsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

Amara provides a new lease on life in Colombia.

At a time when I was tired and settling into a lens of painful memory, Amara’s smile and “sacred ‘Yes!’” came to us from a creative place untouched by offenses and suffering. I’m sometimes amused by how happy I’ve been lately as I experience life anew with and through her. But besides a new mother, I’m a human rights defender. I’m dedicated to recording wrongs and keeping alive the memory of injury in a land of impunity. Reports urge readers to Pay attention! Remember! The experiences of my new identity question my former self. What is proper remembering? Would there be any such thing as divine forgetting in Colombia, even after the guns are silenced? My current thought is that forgetting would be naïve, cruel, unjust, perhaps even impossible, before God’s Kingdom is (more?) fully realized on earth. Even these questions would have felt like high betrayal of victims before Amara appeared on the scene.

It’s lovely to slip into Amara’s world untainted by evil, but how to strike a balance? How to honor “the memory of wrongdoing needed as an instrument of justice and a shield of injustice” and simultaneously “…reach towards the world of love” which is reconciliation? These are the words of Miroslov Volf, author of “The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World.” He’s spurring on my thinking these days while my little teacher nurses, as evidenced by the white spray across the book jacket.

Time for an abrupt transition, as the little one is stirring. Thanks to little Amara for this opportunity to focus on a dimension of Colombia accessible through a slower pace and new-life lens.

Here are some more pictures of my little teacher and sweet pea.

Above: Waking smiles. Jess and I may have a harder time than she does when Amara leaves our “family bed.” You can imagine the joy and love springing deep within when waking to this smile.

Above: With Deb, Zach and Johan Landis-Lewis. Overlooking the Guatavita lake, a water-filled meteor crater into which Muiscas indigenous young men plunged covered with gold dust as a rite of passage.

Above: Babes from the Tuesday morning play group through PROCREAR, the home birth "with dignity" organization that has accompanied Amara through it all. We both love it, right Amara? ...Yes, she is the pink, wailing baby.

Above: Amara coos and squeals her delight with this Infant Stim-Mobile ® , making me a believer in age appropriate toys.

Amara's May 1, Labor Day in Colombia

This message was composed May 1

Friends and Family,

In celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement, here are a few images of the focus of my efforts, our source of great joy and endless amusement. It's no longer a mystery to me why some women choose to withdrawal from their career tracks to be w/ their children.

Today Amara, Jess, June Hunter (Jess' mom is visiting!) and I went downtown where thousands were participating in the annual Labor Day march/protest. A few rabble rousers showed up and challenged the police, "damaging the march," according to one Afro-Colombian organizer. A scuffle ensued. The tear gas stung. During the rowdiest moments of her short life, little Amara woke only momentarily to give me a perplexed look and then returned to her deep sleep. Her parents and "Nonna" were relieved.

As per the norm, even in her slumber and tucked into her "moby" carrier fair-skinned Amara with her button nose drew much attention. Frequently heard comments: "look, it's a real baby!" "she doesn't even look real!," "looks just like a doll!" One woman actually confessed that she thought to herself, "my, that woman is a little old to be carrying a doll around." (Confession: While Amara is likely unaware of all attention, it may be going to her mother's head.)

A note on the pictures. I took them last weekend, when Amara was 6.5 weeks old. Three failed attempts at purchasing a camera led cousins Aaron and Laura to loan us theirs for a weekend. We really appreciate it! (Yes, three times we've tried to give businesses our money so that they send us a camera, and no dice.)

A happy mom,