It is Halloween 2020. This is the year we celebrate a Halloween of all treat and no trick. My goodness, nothing feels normal. Nothing feels safe any more.
This morning the two Casa Girasoles homes are preparing for unique celebrations. Neither house celebrates Halloween – the ghosts and ghouls Halloween. Instead, they prepare unique celebrations of the culture and heritage of the local regions. This includes All Saints and All Souls day observations – but more than anything, it includes fun activities for the kids.
Throughout the pandemic the staff of the Casa Girasoles have gone the extra effort to bring a sense of normalcy to the kids. Both homes are located on large properties. This has meant we have the physical environment for “sheltering-in-place” and allowing the kids the space and place to play and run around. The house in Ica even built a mountain bike course inside the compound.
I feel so fortunate that we can offer the boys a chance to feel like kids. That is not true for so many. Just yesterday I received a message from a staff person about one of the mothers in our Ines Project for Medically Fragile Children. The mother, a woman who has lived a life so much more complex than her 35 years, has a child with a rare in-born error of metabolism disorder. For the most part, management of the condition has been one long experiment. The mother, living on her own with 2 other children, has done a tremendous job advocating for her child – arranging appointments, managing the complicated puzzle of coordinating transportation, and holding her family together. They live in deep poverty. Renting a small hut (clapboard walls with no plumbing) on the roof of a mechanics garage.
The mother – originally from the Puno area high in the Andes – has been a challenge for the staff of the Ines Project. She can be demanding and often fails to follow-through on the requests of the team. A couple of weeks back they gave her an ultimatum – start to comply with the project requirements or leave. I know the team wasn’t trying to be hardline They were just frustrated. We talked and worked on a plan that allowed everyone to show up. We made every effort to assure the mother was heard and had a place to show up with her needs to the project. The team crafted an agreement and presented it to her. She rejected the agreement. She didn’t want to be controlled. She told the team she was going to go on her own.
I spoke with our project director yesterday. We both feel the real issue is one of fear. The mother has worked so hard to care for her family. She has scraped and fought for their safety and well-being. She is worn-out. The pandemic hasn’t made this any easier. In fact, it has made her even more defensive and angry. An anger that comes from a deep space in our neurobiology that is focused on keeping us safe. She is literally reacting in a way that is about protecting herself and her family.
We’ve talked with the team. We’re going to give the mother some space. We’ll reach out in a few days. We’ll let her know we are here and that we care for her and her family. We will giver her the space to tell us about her needs. We will make certain she is safe.
There is so much pain in the world. The simple things – trick-or-treating – that helped us to hold onto the “normal” are gone. The social-political-economic clashes that are all around us – they’re exhausting. They’re scary.
It strikes me the one thing we can offer one another is safety. We can be a safe space in relationship. We can be a space for others to feel heard, respected and honored.
Let’s stick together. Let’s seek safety.