Benjamin’s Springtime

Yesterday we went to the campo . . . the country. The place is called Piedra Lisa, “smooth rock.” Every two weeks Sister Mimi and two or three women from Casa Ursulina go there to meet with about 20 rural women eager to develop new skills in spinning, weaving, and other crafts. They come to learn, and for companionship.

Piedra Lisa isn’t a town. It’s miles of rolling hills, valleys, and forests in all directions. We meet at a school where there are 20 students, and beside it the house of the teacher and her family. Nothing more, except the land that embraces it.

The women in Mimi’s classes live in isolated farmsteads scattered through the hills. They walk, some of them miles, to the school. Or they wait on the road to catch a ride with us in the truck bed of Sandra’s pickup. Most are tenant farmers constantly struggling to provide for themselves and their families.

It’s springtime in Chile. Yesterday the fields were brilliant with yellow wildflowers. Despite a persistent drought, green was breaking through. At the school, one wall was full of children’s bright drawings of springtime. I wanted to photograph all of them. But I chose just one, this one, by Benjamin.

Chile is a beautiful country. Despite the obvious poverty, Benjamin knows that. Every day he sees the Andes reaching up to a glorious blue sky. They call this color celeste . . . heavenly!  A jaunty pink bird reflects the surprisingly pink mountain peaks. The animals of the farm parade in peace beside the little red house, made warm by a simple wood-burning stove. The wind blows toward the mountains.

Life isn’t easy here. But there is beauty. God is good. Chile is a country of contrasts.