In Nature & In Name

Hope is everywhere. Hope is always there. Hope is inside of you. You just need to find it. I feel my purpose here on this earth is to comfort the grieving and lift the spirits of those who need it. “ – Rebecca, Galloway School The final projects were underway today from Galloway School and Summit Charter School. One of the Galloway letters shared about a grandfather, Harry Fine, who used to say “In nature and in name.”  This is poetically fitting for a culture where nearly everyone, at nearly all times, expresses being fine. Ghana is also a culture that bestows names with intention to their children, often at special naming ceremonies, with the hope that they will come embody the very nature and essence of their names – Rejoice, Beauty, Joy, Hope, Peace, Blessing, God’s Way, Proud, Grace, Angel, Comfort, Happy, Courage – to name just a few.

We are struck by the intimacy in many of the stories being shared. Hearts flowing through pencils in darkened rooms, bringing details from inner places, often kept in shadows, into the light. There are times when the pairings seem perfect. We could not have even known to match particular students with each other, yet, it happens. Often. Rebecca’s letter landed in the hands of a child in need of hope and comforting. When we inquired in more depth about the challenges expressed in his letter, we thought, how poetic he has Rebecca’s letter.

The stories seem as varied as the grains of maize abounding in the fields around us, yet the essence in the nature of the hardships is so similar. We have been quite surprised to see so many stories of suffering – beginning with those from the U.S.  Many of the letters from the United States include stories tied to ancestral history and narratives of war, segregation, and the great depression. In Ghana, the tales relate to present day struggles. We’ve even had to pull some stories for the inappropriateness in the level of detail, at times violent in words and/or pictures, on both sides. Yet, many of them speak to the overcoming of obstacles, some how (as they say here).

Our final project to be exchanged on this trip, interestingly enough, is with the Prince of Peace JHS 2 students, many of who are the seed kids for the entire CIH project. When they settle in, they focus deeply, always exhibiting their investment in this cross-cultural, peace-building endeavor. They always inquire about friends from the years that have gone by, keeping that circle, that loop, never ending. Although they all love the variety from Summit Charter School, most choose to create their own story books, enjoying the rare opportunity to use a hole puncher (many decide to make holes all around the outside of their pages). They find delight in a disposable camera and capture friendship and joy. They share of their own firsts and their own best friends.

Blessings abound on pages filled with beauty, and tears. Joy fills the humid air, and grace flows between us. It takes courage to share, and in sharing, earth angels comfort, lifting spirits to rejoice. Hope is everywhere. We find it, everyday, with these children.