• April 6, 2013

Somewhere in the night someone cries for friendship

Porvenir Bajo
(Valparaiso, Chile)

By Armando Gutierrez, Volunteer in Valparaiso, Chile

What hap­pens at night in our neigh­bor­hood (Porvenir Bajo)? From what I wit­ness out­side of my window: the door of Juanita´s corner store are shut, the lamp­post light up like can­dles, and our play­ground lays silent. It is nothing out of the ordi­nary. But our hearts have a thirst that goes beyond what we per­ceive from our window. Somewhere in the night someone cries for com­pas­sion, for a pres­ence, for friend­ship.

During our Saturday nights upon returning home from our chapel, we share a glance of the new world in our Porvenir. We see new faces, hear new voices, and see men gather in places that remain empty during the day. There was beauty in front of us that was hidden like a trea­sure. The men that often kept silent during the day were out con­versing and living in the night. Simon, Benito, and I decided to stay out as well. We put on our extra jacket, packed up our mate (a hot herbal drink from Argentina that is nor­mally shared with others), recited a prayer, and with our rosaries at hand we ven­tured forth the nightlife. (…)

The first one to shake my hand was Miguel Angel. I have come across him sev­eral times during the day, but we never shared more than a hello and goodbye. But in fact he knew who I was and where I came from. He asked if we were lost and I responded, “No, we’re here to be with you.” Miguel Angel was very happy to hear this. He invited us to gather around with the rest and intro­duced us as, “the young men that help the chil­dren.” Many in the group like Cristian told me that his nephew comes to our house on a reg­ular basis and that he is very grateful for thinking of the chil­dren. Our con­ver­sa­tions of work, jokes, and soccer matches quickly fol­lowed. The con­ver­sa­tions were so nat­ural that it felt as if I have known each one of them for years. It felt as if I worked alongside them, it felt more that I suf­fered with them too. I was no longer passing the mate to strangers, I was passing it to Miguel Angel, Cristian, Arturo, Luis, Claudio, and Mauricio, my friends. In a moment of our sharing the clouds dis­ap­peared from the sky and the moon lit up brighter than our arti­fi­cial light from our lamp­post. We all con­tem­plated the beau­tiful sight.. Miguel Angel said with words of wisdom and truth, “That there is a sign of God that no one can deny.” At this moment I couldn’t help but think, who were we to accept such a beau­tiful friend­ship, wel­coming, and grat­i­tude? Who was I to share this moment with Miguel Angel, a man with a pro­found love for God. His words will stay in my mind and heart: “I thought you only help chil­dren, thank you for lis­tening to me, when will you return?”

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