A Pretty Tight Situation

In the October 1997 Present Time, Patricia Woodruff wrote from a camp for ex-guerrilleros in Guatemala. Here are excerpts from a more recent letter.

. . . . Micaela and Sonia (who also helps with the children and is slowly ingesting some RC literature) are hardly my assistants. It is more like I am their assistant. I am supporting them to do their best in a pretty tight situation. When I first visited the camp in September, the tension was palpable. People were scared to death, not knowing whether or not they would really be able to function as civilians, and all of them bouncing this fear around like a soccer ball.

Many have been with the resistance since they were thirteen or fourteen years old. They have only nine months to learn a trade, find a place to live, and perhaps find lost family. Add to this that most of the occupational training classes started two or three months late. Some of the parents are bonding with their children for the first time. Their children were in Mexico, believing they were Mexicans and wondering, "Who is that aunt or uncle who visits twice a year and seems to care so much for me?" . . . "And now they want me to move to that damnably poor country across the border!" They all came willingly, but nervously.

This is a really good group of people, and they are doing magnificently with a touchy situation. Even Julio, a ten year old who seems intent on delinquency, is softening. His mother is dead, his father shows little interest in him. Micaela recruited an older boy to be his "big brother." I helped him with a headache one day, which was making him vicious with the younger ones. He fell asleep in my hands. Now he greets me with a handshake and a smile big enough for the moon.

It was my suggestion that Julio have a committee to think about him rather than what the group suggested, which was that they fire Micaela because she couldn't handle all the children fourteen hours a day. I have to remind myself that none of these people are accustomed to family life or children. They are used to military discipline, for which the children could care less. I am finally getting slick at suggesting things in a way that doesn't sound like my suggestion. Overall, the tone of the place is becoming more relaxed, but basic survival is still a huge and unresolved challenge.

I spent many years taking action on top of fears. The result was a lot of anxious actions. Finally I have learned to recognize a state of grace wherein I know what to do from a deep confidence, and the situation is not distorted by my wondering whether or not I can do it. When I know I can, I then act or speak from a place of pure creativity. Afterwards I await the response the situation offers. I simply wait to see what the universe thought of that act or idea. Sometimes it seems like nothing will come of it, but then, perhaps much later, there is a response. For me this is an entirely new way of living, and the results are unprecedented. Unpatterned, you might say.

You and RC gave me a great gift of creativity and insight. I needed to straighten out the distortions of my own reception. I still do. But now it is time for you to wait, without particular expectations, for the joyful and creative response to your creativity which is coming from this corner of the world. Be confident. Your act was an exquisite piece of work and creative energy. The response, long range, is bound to be equally exquisite.

Patricia Woodruff
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

(Present Time No. 110, January 1998)


Last modified: 2016-08-22 02:11:22-07