133. Our Gifts Are Not Our Own
So much of life, it seems, is about being able to let go with grace.
In the little village of San Vicente de Azpitia in the coastal desert of Peru, in the year 1981, a young American man walked the village one evening, just around dusk, guitar strapped over his shoulder, serenading the empty streets.
He had just come to a song with the help of a visiting student from Lima. It’s bilingual verses lamented the inevitable separation of mother and child, reconciled only by the knowing that we are joined by a greater pilgrimage:
“Aunque la vida nos separa, peregrinamos en amor.”
“Although life separates us, we pilgrimage in love.”
These were the verses of an idealistic and romantic young sojourner in his early twenties, living, working and loving a tiny Peruvian village…to change the world.
Meandering the streets of Azpitia that night brought him to little mud house where he could see candles lit and many people inside. So he went up to the door and knocked.
A gentle and kind face greeted him and explained softly that the people sitting around the four walls of this room were accompanying a stillborn child through the night.
The young man noticed the white cloth bundle on the floor in the middle of the room.
Felix invited the young man in to join them for a while.
The mother and Father were sitting together across the room, holding each other, rocking back and forth, faces held in tender grief.
It was a remarkable feeling…very clear and open, clean as fresh rain…intimate, comforting, soft and warm as a mother’s breast. The young man was a foreigner here, a stranger, and yet, this night he was affectionately welcomed as a village son.
“Toca la guitarra Pablo. Nos canta!” welcomed Felix.
So the young man began to play the song he had been courting all day.
The song now found its purpose. It seemed to have been written for just this moment. The verses alternated between English and Spanish in a kind of longing for union that seems possible only in the before and the after.
So strange was this. The young man could not but wonder how it came to be that the newborn song was written that day, it seemed, for the sole purpose of this sad event.
He played and sang gently. And that was it, nothing more, nothing less. The song came and went…just like that! These remarkable human beings nodded their kind agreement…a mother comforted…and all continued quietly sitting through the wee hours of the night until the first light of dawn…simply, tenderly accompanying this child to its destination.