I looked. I smiled. There is inherent beauty in children. The contrast between light and shadow and the colors of their clothing held my attention. As I looked more closely, I wondered: What is it like to live in a culture with "western" book bags and traditional dress? Why does the room they are in look like a prison cell with bare cement-like walls with a high window letting in light? Why are they being educated in a multi-age classroom, and where are the boys being educated? What does it feel like to be taught to cover your body - to hide yourself because of your gender? Are they pointing because they've been taught to read that way - they must read that way? Where are their feet? Are they kneeling? If so, how do they endure sitting in that posture for any length of time? Are they punished if they move or try to reposition themselves for comfort? Who painted the arm of the child second from the right and why? Is it a source of pride or privilege for her? Do their souls find comfort in what they are reading? Are their spirits enlarged? What prior knowledge and experience are they connecting to the words? There is a tattered cloth on the floor - seemingly a carpet. Are these girls living in poverty, and do they consider the opportunity to be in school a blessing?
No matter the complexities of their situation, they are girls, and they have been taught to read. Within that skill lies the potential for knowledge, freedom and hope. My prayer is that they will be granted the grace to soar in continued beauty and light as a gift to our world.
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