Sidewalk Chalk and the Coming Utopia

“The determining element in the Latin American person is not the past (ours is a European past, one of colonization) but the future. Herein lies the activating function of the utopian element. Utopia ought not be understood as a synonym for illusion or a flight from present reality…Faith promises and demonstrates as realized in Christ as utopia that consists in a world totally reconciled, a world that is the fulfillment of what we are creating here on earth with feelings and love.”

Jesus Christ Liberator, Leonardo Boff, 44-45



Sidewalk chalk with two young boys is a lot of fun. They both drew rocket ships. The one pictured was headed toward a collection of several planets (also drawn by the children). Another child drew a space ship with legs, arms, and a face. It was so big I could not adequately fit it into the lens of my camera.

I simply gave them the chalk and they went to dreaming. I followed along and drew some o the planets and stars, but let them guide me. They actually told me I was drawing the “easy stuff.”

The Boff quote and the title of this post let you know the point I am working toward. Utopia, that is, a no-place and yet an idea which is always possible. For Boff, utopia is wrapped up in the hope made possible by Jesus Christ. I go back and forth on the idea of utopia, partially because of the tendency to do what the quote says (to escape from the present reality). However, I mostly am averse to utopias because in rural areas they tend to be haunted by the lost futures of days gone by. They sit in the “good ‘ol days” and if we could just get back to those days. Whether those days be ones of good jobs, full church pews, or strong community, they are always rooted in a past, that for worse or for better are not coming back.

Yet, in working with children, they tend not to worry about days gone by, usually because they have no experience of those days since they are less than a decade old. The thing I look toward is letting children describe their utopia and us helping work toward it. I can hand the sidewalk chalk to the children and let them create. I can ask them what they want, and I can work with them and others to make it happen.



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