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what can i give?

«Și eu vreau o stea!»1 says a pair of eyes to me, a little angry and frustrated because they haven’t made an origami star yet. This spontaneity in every moment makes me smile. This daily gift that the children give me whom I take care of in “Casa Sonja”, the music school in Hosman. Every day I realize how the pure sincerity of our encounters transforms me and makes me want to continue on this path. Every day I am also aware of everything my relationships with others shape in terms of love, appreciation, wealth: a hug, a look, a whoop of joy when I arrive – and always the children jumping into my arms, a smile, a drawing given in secret, with very precise instructions on how to keep it, safe from the desires of others… I am enchanted by this beautiful serenity. Given everything I’m getting, I’m left with the question: What can I give? In the beginning I taught children learning saxophone and clarinet. The first few times I was scared because I couldn’t speak a word of Romanian. I wanted nothing more than to give and teach them everything I knew; but only my smile answered their questioning and fiery, a little disturbed looks. I was afraid of not knowing how to do it right and I was afraid of them. If I’m still scared now, I remember the words that were said to me at the beginning: «Nu te teme.»2. The most important thing in the relationship is honesty, since tenderness will never be a mistake. There was this little boy who was learning the soprano saxophone for the first time and I asked him to play the note “La.” He didn’t succeed because it’s difficult to produce the first notes. He was overwhelmed and began to cry. I looked at him with tenderness and tried to let him know that I meant well for him. I hugged him but I felt incredibly powerless. I had no way of expressing myself to him – I thought. But I was wrong.

Then there was the day when I first decided to play some notes on the piano in the chapel. The intense silence that followed was one of religious peace. I can’t pray, I can’t preach, I couldn’t soothe anyone’s soul with my words. But that day I felt that I could give myself to others through my music, that I could share my inner peace and awareness. I used to think I had no way of expressing myself. But I was wrong. It was precisely the language barrier that allowed me to understand: what is essential cannot be found in words. My first relationships had to do without words. What is essential is the language of the heart, which finds countless ways to communicate, even through silence. Those who love can always express themselves. Children are the best example of this. At first I was frustrated to only have my smile and my fingers gliding over the keyboard, but now I appreciate how lucky I can be to be able to reveal myself to others in this way. This is the language of my heart. To give what? Love, appreciation for the children who are developing. I come to the social center in the morning. When I hear little Sidonia exclaiming excitedly, “A venit Louise!”3 I feel like I’m the most privileged person on earth to be loved like that. We all need love, the children and we who care for them. What is really essential is this interpersonal love that allows us to grow. Making us feel like we exist. I feel my existence validated by someone else’s recognition. “Being” means: being perceived and recognized. To figure out how to be fully present for others, fully myself, honestly and sincerely.

Louise from France, 24 years old, volunteer 2020

1 «I want a star too.»

2 «Don’t be afraid.»

3 «Louise is arriving!»