Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Great Souls of the World

Have you noticed that the wealthier people are, the less time they seem to have for things that matter?  And in a given community, the poor are often the nicest ones.  The rich are perhaps pulled away by possessions and position and business... it seems that they (we) have perhaps less to offer by way of meaningful engagement.

The 'poor'?  Or could we ignore the economic distinction and instead just consider what they do?

If my experiences in the developing nations of Africa were enough, I'd say that these are the folks I'd want as neighbors.  These are the ones who unfailingly invite me to come sit and talk.  They take me into their home and make a place for me in their family time.  They bring me in and roast a few coffee beans so they can make me a cup of coffee as their welcome guest.  When I was injured and laid up, these are the ones who came each day to visit me and wept over me as I healed.  These are the ones who brought small gifts as I was leaving for home and who promised to pray for me and my family.  And they've never asked for anything.

Thank you Father,
Thank you for sunshine and rain,
     for shelter and food,
        for family and friends.
Thank you for a place to sit and rest,
     and for a place to work.
Thank you for small faces that smile for so little reason,
    and for little hands that reach out to shake mine in welcome,
       and for the giggles that accompany such formality.
Thank you for the father who gathers his family so he can introduce them
    and tell us about them one by one.
Thank you for enough to share with these gentle folks.
Thank you for the chance to be welcomed and to learn so much.
It's okay if I pray with Muslims, right?  And if they pray for me?
"Freely you have received; freely give."
     I always wondered what that was about.

So what shall we call these noble folks?  They're the ones who so freely give of the very little that they have.   'The poor' just doesn't fit, does it.

Perhaps more appropriately, these are the great souls of the world. These are the ones whom history should honor, these who in a world of greed and corruption, of wealth-chasers and life destroyers, these have lived nobly and honorably and with a good heart.

The photos here are of a precious family we met while working in Djibouti. My friend is the gracious father, here with his wife, widowed sister, and the family's nine children.  Over the years, they welcomed me each time with laughter and stories.  Great folks.  The kids are bright, courageous, and working hard to get an education.