As our Habitat for Humanity team worked together over the past two weeks, we had plenty of time to chat. We talked about our homes, our families and our hobbies. But there was one thing we never had to discuss: our reason for being half way around the world helping someone we had never met build a house. All of us knew that we were here for the same reason.
Compassion is one of my favourite words. I’m a signatory on The Charter for Compassion. And well-known theologian, Marcus Borg, believes that the word “love” in the Bible would better be translated as “compassion.” (Can you imagine how many marriages would improve if people promised to have compassion for their spouses instead of to love them?)
With all the people on our team working from this foundation of compassion, a miracle occurred. A vacant lot became the garden for growth of cultural understandings, gender appreciation, and, of course, a new home. When we held our good-bye celebration at the build site, tears flowed freely. We shared long, warm hugs with people from a different culture and with a different language we had met a mere 10 days earlier. The small building lot glowed with joy and heartfelt respect.
I will return to Canada on a high created by the joy of helping a terrific family. I will never forget a Quechua mason brought to tears during his farewell speech. I will never forget the family standing on the sidewalk waving at our bus as we drove away.
We gave a little money. We gave a little time. And we got back so much more than we gave.