Throughout our time here in Chacraseca we’ve been reminded of an African proverb that goes something like this: if you want to go fast, go alone…but if you want to go far, go together.
This is one of the ways you could describe the term “accompaniment,” a concept and way of being/doing about which our D.min course revolves. We are here in Chacraseca to witness and to learn accompaniment as a way of living our ministry, living our prayer, and living our struggle for justice. It is a core value and method for Just Hope, and it is a way of life for the people here — they survive and continue La Lucha (the struggle) because they walk the road together.
Today we met with some of the women of Stitching Hope, a group of women who create beautiful stoles, purses and other textile arts using fabrics that they paint and dye in brilliant hues. These pieces are sold in the United States, and their sale allows the women to receive fair wages for their work — wages that make it possible for their children to eat and to attend school.
Rather than merely supporting the women of Stitching Hope by purchasing their work, we spent most of the day together. First, we heard each other’s stories and ate a meal together. Then we began the work of designing a special stole together — one that represents the practice of accompaniment.
It was that creative process that touched me most deeply: women from two cultures, speaking two different languages, who (through translators, hand gestures, and laughter) first described their understandings of accompaniment and then created shared symbols to paint a picture of that reality in colorful fabric.
It was difficult. It was frustrating. It was funny. And it was also holy.
By the end of the afternoon, we not only had the basic design for a stole that will be produced both for us and for the Stitching Hope product line, but we also had experienced the power of working together in a manner that allows all voices to be heard and values all experiences on even footing. We dipped our toes into accompaniment, and it was cool water for our spirits.
When we left the Stitching Hope workshop, purchases in hand (because we did buy some of their gorgeous work), hugs were shared all around. We are partners now, yoked together on the same journey. We are sisters, and together (though language and cultural barriers may slow us down), we will walk far.