Friday, October 10, 2014

the mud-maker

Precious friends for many years.
Mom fans the coals, making coffee the traditional way from
 hand-ground beans that she roasted on the same fire.  Sis
 spread grass on the floor for their guest.  Everything they 
 own is in this 10 x 15 ft. hut.  The two candles light the    
home; there's no electricity here.                                   
Mom was blind and crippled for several years.  Thanks to
 a healthcare program and a little assistance, she can see
and walk now. She has a hip replacement scheduled that
that should complete her recovery.  She's a widow, and 
her kids, who've cared for her all through the ordeal,
 are thrilled, of course.                                         
Ethiopia, 2011.
He was walking and talking with his friends when they saw this blind fellow beside the road, begging for money.  The guys wondered why this beggar had ended up that way.  Did he deserve it because he had done something wrong? Or maybe his parents had?

He explained for them, no, this blind fellow and his parents hadn't done anything wrong, and that's the wrong question, looking for someone to blame.  This blindness is going to show something wonderfully good, and it will happen today while there's light, and before night comes and no one can see. He made some mud from spit and the dirt on the ground and put it on the blind fellow's eyes, then told him to to go wash at this public water place.

The blind fellow did as he was told, and went home seeing!  It caused a stir, of course.  His relatives and neighbors couldn't believe it and asked all kinds of questions.  They even wondered if he was the same guy. He explained the little he knew of what had happened, how this man had put mud on his eyes, and when he washed, he could see!  They wanted to know where the mud-maker was, but he didn't know.

The gathered crowd took the fellow to the local leaders who made a big deal of this mud-maker guy doing things like that during their holiday.  Lots of loud and emphatic words followed, and even the fellow's parents got dragged in to the melee, but he stuck to what he knew; I was born blind but now I'm not.  I don't know any more than that.  The politicos were pretty angry; it didn't fit their agenda, I suppose, so they threw the fellow out along with his story, dismissing the whole event.

Later, when the mud-maker heard about it, he found the fellow and explained things a bit.  It was a 'now you see, now you know' kind of conversation, and the fellow rather suddenly got it; he got it all and was so, so thankful to now see and to understand, too.
At the farthest far end of the road, children came cautiously out to meet us.
The fellow brought his school things, perhaps so we'd know he was a
person of substance and consequence. Nice kids, introduced us to
their parents and neighbors.
                     Djibouti, 2011.

Later, folks from the ruling party confronted the mud-maker about it all. Apparently he had made some comment about the blind seeing and those who could see going blind, and they asked about themselves; are we blind?  It was an argument-starter sort of question.

You have to wonder if he was smiling or wincing when he answered the question.  If you were really blind, he explained, you wouldn't be accountable for what you can't see.  Since you claim you can see, well, it's all on you.

The question continually pursues us all, I suppose.  Can we see what's in front of us?

... turning away is easier, but not the best way. It's kind of like tossing out the once-blind fellow along with his story.