Originally posted Jan. 14, 2013, at … in the Meantime. Republished with permission of the author.
My very favorite element of the Internet is the ability to share inspirational stories with others, and especially inspirational videos.
I use that word “inspirational” with some trepidation. Often what’s labeled “inspirational” in our culture moves in the direction of sappy, happy and Hallmarky (I know that’s not a word but you know what I mean).
But I mean inspirational in the old-fashioned sense of where the word came from. “Inspiration,” like “respiration,” has to do with breathing, with breath. In fact, “in-spire” literally means “to breathe into.” And breath, of course, is connected to life. Hence, to inspire was to animate, to give life, to breathe life into another.
Early on, this was often associated with the divine, and artists of all sorts still sometimes talk about their “inspirational muse.” This is reflected in the Bible as well, as in the opening passages of Genesis, the Spirit — or, more literally, the “Breath” — of God moved (hovered and brooded are other ways to render this) over the waters, participating in the life-giving creative activity of God.
That’s what I mean by “inspirational” — things that invite creativity and energy and give life so that we are ourselves motivated to do something life-giving for another. So when I come across something like “Honk If You Love Somebody” — which invites us to imagine the difference our smallest gestures may make in the lives of others — or “Wright’s Law” — which is as beautiful and heart-achingly true a piece of film work as I’ve seen in years and that invites us to look differently on the triumphs and tragedies of our lives and see them all bound together by God’s divine love Well, when I come across pieces like this — pieces that give life to me — I am filled first with a deep sense of gratitude for those who made and distributed the film and those who pointed me to it. And then I want to share it with as many folks as I can.
So in that spirit (pun intended), another inspired video, this time about “The Recycled Orchestra.” It centers on the village of Cateura, Paraguay, where a collection of families and townspeople live in and on and around a vast landfill and who make their living from sorting through and reselling the garbage. It is, if you think about it, one of the starkest pictures of poverty — other people eking out a living by sorting through the things we have thrown away. Yet amid these circumstances, something beautiful is happening. (Actually, I suspect that many beautiful things are happening of which I will never know, but this one has been made available to us.) The people of Cateura are making musical instruments out of the garbage and teaching their children to play. A cello from an old oil drum, or violin from various discarded kitchen implements. In a place where a new instrument might cost as much as a house, this community has found a way to give their children the gift of music and their children now are giving it back to them as they play in “The Recycled Orchestra.”
There are a number of incredible moments in this four-minute film, but perhaps the one that most moved — OK, inspired — me was near the end, when one of the folks — I think it may have been the director of the orchestra — said, “We know that we shouldn’t throw things away carelessly. But we shouldn’t throw away people, either.” And so this creative and courageous community is finding a way to give their children a sense of hope, purpose and meaning which is not just breath-taking, but breath-giving. This is a just short glimpse into a remarkable story that is being told in a feature-length documentary called “Landfill Harmonic” that is still in production. You can follow the story of the community and the coming film at their Facebook page.
Find a link to David Lose’s blog … in the Meantime at Lutheran Blogs.
You might also want to read:
A lifeline amid poverty
ONE face in the campaign to end poverty and disease
Her little, tapping foot