The trees of good and evil
Friday, November 16, 2007
By Ryan Holly
Jinotepe, Nicaragua. Day: July 24, 2007. Activity: painting an
orphanage. Realizing that a human being can inhale only so much paint
before hallucination converts to reality, we took a break to paint the
love of Jesus Christ into the hearts of the children.
My recess from painting was a uniquely organic one. I swung kids around
on my shoulders, played futbol with them and the most significant
activity was instigated by three of the children – Pedro, Jose and
All three of them motioned for me to follow them through a field. My
pathetic Spanish vocabulary boosted when I understood the word “guava.”
We transformed into monkeys as we climbed a guava tree. We shared its
fruit: we experienced life.
Our cultures clashed as mine was humiliated in its excess and
exposed in its fraudulence. In this flourishing field of corn and guava
I was thrust into a subsistence culture being perpetuated by eight to
eleven year old children.
While American children are being contaminated with the time equals
money equation as instructed in corporate educational institutions,
these Nicaraguan children are knowledgeable about God’s creative
blessings and how to survive in harmony with nature.
My monochronic American culture was superseded by the polychronic Nicaraguan culture. Time was of no value to us.
Our love was for each other; not motivated by money or by prestige. The
three children attempted to share as much of the guava with me as they
could as I stood beneath them, prepared to catch them if they fell.
My primary love is for Jesus Christ who created these radiant children and this love was evident in our concern for each other.
My humiliation was purged by my epiphany that the excessive American
culture is a futile one. More is less and spiritual death is not
success. The fraudulence of American culture is apparent in its
artificial and corrupt branches.
Nicaraguan culture gained transcendence in my eyes because of its moral
trunk and its organic roots. The trees of good and evil: A Nicaraguan
guava tree and an American money tree. A suicidal tragedy: only one is
real yet the illusion is fought and died for.
Keneth, sparked a fulfilling experience: studying the Bible. We
were on the playground when he withdrew a weathered and coverless
pocket-sized Bible in Spanish.
I was instantly overjoyed at the sight of a Bible in his hands but my
joy ascended when I realized that he desired to study the Bible.
I will never forget sitting with Keneth as I read Genesis 1 to him in
Spanish. My Spanish was clumsy and I did not understand most of the
words I read but he was enthralled by the earth’s origin.
More and more children surrounded me so I excavated my bible from the
depths of my backpack. A favorite passage among the children is Salmos
23 (Psalm 23) and after they read it in Spanish I read it in English.
Their favorite verse of this chapter is verse 4: “Even through I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Their luminescent hope is discovered in God-inspired fearlessness.
Pedro joined us and brought his aging Spanish Bible. I tore out a
page from my journal and wrote my favorite verses on it for them. I
made sure to accentuate certain verses, such as 1 Juan (John) 4:16
“Dios es amore” (“God is love”).
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Day: October 26, 2007. Activity:
transforming into a child of humility and action. Don’t sleep till
tomorrow; our time to wake is now.