Tales of Greasy and Grubby: Complementary Rings

Greasy and Grubby are a team, complementary of one another, seeing more clearly together than apart. Circumstances have sometimes caused them to be without one another in their adventures, and that has been sometimes painful.

Grubby never knows why certain memories pop up at certain times, but in this moment she is remembering an experience which left her feeling very overwhelmed, longing for the wisdom of her friend.

It had been a long day of work with the holistic healing team of doctors, nurses, pastors and healers. Maybe we saw 300 or 400 people. The sun set and the request came from the owner of the sewing cooperative that they wanted to have a meeting. I went, and sat at the end of a long table for a conversation about broken machines and lack of local market and could I facilitate shipping to the US and a myriad of other issues which were troubling the little business. The tiredness, the late hour, the struggle with the language all left me feeling beat up. "Yes," I said repeatedly, "I will take that back to our committee. I can't give you an answer right now."

A few hours later, delegation members were tucked safely into their beds round and about the community. It was about 10:30 at night when our sister pastor came to Julia's home where I was staying. A young man, Edgar*, needed to talk with me. We have known Edgar since our first visit to our sister community, first as a quiet teen with a passion for woodworking. As an artist with a vision problem which was keeping him from creating out of wood and metal and paint what he envisioned in his mind, who worked a week of nights and days to create beautiful crosses for us to sell to earn money for a pair of special glasses. As a troubled young adult who had pressures from gang and family situations which we did not understand. As a co-manager of a little woodworking shop who traveled with us to La Palma to learn more about that style of painting and who taught classes at the homeless shelter.

That late night, Edgar wanted to speak with me, and he needed his pastor to be able to do it. Edgar had not been visible yet during our visit, and that night he seemed distant, troubled, maybe a bit under the influence of drink or something else. He was planning to sell the power tools which we had sent. He and his shop-mates had decided that their best plan for survival was to sell this equipment, to hire a coyote and to send Edgar north to the United States. There he could use his skills and send money back. There he would be safe from the gangs. The pastor said that this was Edgar's decision, and the decision of his family and his co-workers, and Edgar needed help in telling me this.

There was nothing I could really say. "You know this is dangerous, right? Are you sure? OK, we will pray for you."

I watched Edgar meander unsteadily back toward his shop. So much promise. So many hidden demons. After all this time I didn't know Edgar, really.

I walked back to Julia's house, sat down and just started shaking. Then I cried. Julia understood. When tough stuff and exhaustion meet, you need your complement to get through it.

Edgar made it to the US. He made it into custody. He was held for 3 months. He wrote us letters. We wrote him letters. An envelope from him arrived with gifts which he made for us while in prison - a woven ring with the name Greasy and a woven ring with the name Grubby. We wore those rings on strings around our necks until Edgar was sent home, where he continues to hide from demons.

*Edgar is not our friend's real name. The rings do have our real names.


  1. Wow..... very powerful, and very real. Your strength, compassion, and conviction is such a blessing to us here in the US AND to the people of ES.

  2. Beautifully written Linda. It really captures so much about the struggle. Thank you for sharing


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