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Hide and Seek

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Imagine holding a pencil horizontally. If you were to apply force to both ends of a pencil by pushing them down simultaneously, you would see the pencil bend. After enough force was applied, the pencil would break in the middle, releasing the stress you have put on it. Similarly, a fault line is the area of stress on the earth right before the earth shifts apart. When the pencil is broken, we feel it. The shatter. The rattle. When the world of nature catastrophically collides with the human world, we feel it. The earthquake. We’re all standing on a fault line. At any moment, the pencil can snap.

“Not it!” I screeched as the sunshine in Aruba beat down on the cornrows (a traditional Caribbean hairstyle) in my braided hair. I could feel the radiant heat gleam off of my skin, giving new energy to every fiber in my being. I floated around the shantytown like a kite, not lingering here or there, and welcomed anywhere I landed. A shantytown is a town where impoverished people live in improvised dwellings made from scrap materials: often plywood, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic. As my feet ran through the water, I could feel the sand melt beneath my toes. It reminded me that one of the primary benefits of the shantytown was it was close to the ocean. Ganzo looked up at me, with his brown eyes shining and smile stretching from here to heaven, and said, “I’d rather seek than hide any day.” He began counting. I sprinted behind the four-walled shack that Ganzo called home and ducked beneath a wooden crate that was tucked out of view. “Ready or not, here I come!” He didn’t waste time trying to draw out the seeking process in order to spare my feelings. Ganzo was a seeker by nature, not only in hide-and-seek but in everything he did. He always sought more. More answers, greater opportunities, a larger purpose. He would grill me with question after question. He wanted words of encouragement from me that would promise him a future one day better than the road he saw his life heading down. He didn’t want to hide from the answers. He never wanted me to sugar coat or water down the truth. He just wanted the truth.

After two weeks of being in Aruba, I left with knots in my stomach. I knew on that hot June summer day, I would say goodbye to a friend and head back home with my church family to Alabama. Our lives would be steered by God from here, just as He had led us to here, and I prayed Ganzo would find all the answers he needed. He was moving back to his homeland in Peru with his mother and sister at the end of July. Peru, we had decided together, held God’s answer. It seemed full of promise and new opportunities; maybe it was a chance to start over again.

On August 15, 2007, an earthquake struck Peru. It measured 8.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. It lasted three minutes. In three minutes, 510 lives were taken. “The news was not true. It couldn’t be,” I thought to myself when I first heard the reports. I kept telling myself, “Ganzo was hiding. His body couldn’t be found because he was hiding.” I wanted to scream, “Come out, come out, wherever you are, Ganzo.” Half an hour after the explosion, they found Ganzo’s body but it was too late.

Ganzo breathed his last while the world kept on moving. His life stopped while mine continued on. Suddenly, I knew what it was like to be Ganzo. The questions filled my head faster than anyone could spit out any answers. I needed closure but I couldn’t find any. I needed to know the reason but there wasn’t one. Sometimes bad things just happen. Beneath our feet is a fault line. The fault line is invisible and is deceitfully quiet until the day when the pencil snaps and the world shifts. So we all have to just keep playing our part in the game. I am much better at hiding now, especially from the truth. But what is truth? If the truth is that people die and that’s all there is, then I don’t want the truth to find me, at least not all at once, because once it does, then Ganzo will really be gone. But what if the truth is that people never die, at least not the part of them that really counts? In that case I’d like to think Ganzo is still counting and when my time’s up, he’ll find me.



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