Colombia Reflection: Friendship and Peacemaking

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CPTnet
26 September 2013
Colombia Reflection: Friendship and Peacemaking

Artist painting CPT logo on wall of CPT Colombia office

At its essence, peacemaking is about
relationship-building among
individuals and communities, whether they are strangers,
enemies, or friends.
Peacemaking as relationship-building has its roots in the Hebrew
and Christian scriptures.
More significantly for me, I have experienced peacemaking as
relationship-building
in my life in concrete, embodied ways, with women, children, and
men in the
communities where I’ve worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams
(CPT).

This was proven again as I began a friendship
with Aliana*, a
delightful, curious girl from my neighborhood in
Barrancabermeja, Colombia,
where I live and work with CPT.

When I presented the idea of painting the new
CPT logo on
the wall of our new CPT office, I thought it would be great to
involve a local
artist. Fellow CPTer Pierre knew a painter who could do an
excellent job; her
name is Aliana. I was excited, immediately thinking she would be
a university
student or a member of the local peace movement. To my delight
and surprise, I
learned she is an 11 year-old girl from the neighborhood known
for her artistic
gifts.

After learning about this young artist, I met
Aliana and her
mother at a neighborhood party. That evening, under the cover of
a huge tree,
we sat together to avoid the rain and struck up a conversation.  Aliana asked me the usual
questions: where do
I come from, am I married, do I have kids, do I have pets? And
so on.  I learned she has
two brothers, that her
dog’s name is Negro, and that she makes him clothes. (Yes I have
seen this
curly haired dog wearing a t-shirt running down the street). I
learned she
loves to draw and paint, and that we are neighbors on the same
street.

Upon invitation by her mother, I walked to her
house one
Monday. Aliana showed me her drawings of princesses, Tinker
Bell, and an
amazingly detailed horse whose mane billowed in the wind. I also
learned she makes
sculptures, and was shown the t-shirts she sews for her dog.
Aliana came to the
office to paint the CPT logo of the dove, barbed-wire, and tree
leaves. She
looked at the CPT hat, looked at me and did a double take. She
remarked,
“Eso es facil.” (This is easy). The CPTers in the room all
laughed in
response.

At first Aliana was shy as I photographed each
step of her
process. I was delighted to watch her study the logo, then the
wall, then begin
the task of drawing the outline with a pencil. It was a joy
watching her gain confidence
as she painted the outline of the logo, then filled in the dove
with great
care. I was fascinated at the detail she used when painting the
wire knot and
leaves.

The outcome of accompanying this young artist
is so much
more than a picture-perfect replica of the CPT logo on our
bright red office
wall. The “outcome” was developing a new friendship across
barriers of
language, culture, and age! Becoming friends with Aliana is the
newest
experience of the good news of peacemaking—that at its core, it
is about
relationship-building and transforming human community towards
the Kin-dom of
God, one friendship at a time.

The Colombia team with the Aliana and other friends

The Colombia team with the Aliana and other friends. Click here for more photos.
————————————————————

* Aliana is not her real name.

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