In all things, give thanks. She swept the dirt floor, moving dirt from dirt, the dust following. The one room house, no bigger than a normal sized bedroom, had two large bamboo mats laid side by side on the floor, bedding piled neatly on each. A small charcoal open pit was in the corner with a few pots and pans stacked on each other. Two small windows were open, allowing a little of the African breeze to drift through the room and out the door that had no door. Four children, ages uncertain, but all less than five years old, gathered outside with smiles on their faces as they motioned me in. I was being invited into their “home”.
Ethiopia has their populated and modern cities and their dismal, underprivileged, underserved, and wanting little villages. It was in one of those villages that I was visiting, doing an assessment of the healthcare that the children were receiving before I brought a medical team. The village was remote, no electricity or sewers, holes in an open shack for a latrine for those villagers who chose to use it rather than going on the side of their “homes”. No running water, no well, no water tanks, just a small dirty river that ran on the outskirts of the village. They drank it, washed in it, cooked with it and played in it. An underprivileged village for sure. And yet, the people were smiling, gracious, welcoming and inviting. I entered the “home”.
Proud of what she had
The mother stood in the center of her “house”, with her children around her. She extended her arms out to show me her “house”, her smile big, her teeth missing, and her eyes brimming with pride. This was her “house”. Dirt floor, charcoal pit, bamboo mats, two windows and a door. She offered me some tea and asked me to sit on one of the bamboo mats. I did and the children followed. A small cup of very hot tea was served, sweetened with a lot of sugar, and handed to me, her two hands holding it and placing it in mine. And always smiling. She was proud of what she had. She had everything she needed and nothing that she didn’t.
I could not say the same for me. I had more than I materialistically needed and much that I didn’t need materialistically. And yet, my smiles were often absent. I always wanted more. A fair confession on my part to be sure. I wonder if you feel the same. We have a lot don’t we. It’s only when we see others who do not have what we believe they should have, do we realize our blessings. There for the grace of God, go I.
At this time of thanksgiving, I reflect on that mother’s smile, her genuine pride in having a “home” and her children. I reflect on how she was never embarrassed to invite me into her “home”. I watched as she swept dirt from dirt, and made me feel comfortable in her “home”. I was humbled by her unpretentious character. And I left smiling to myself, and giving thanks for all that I have. Sometimes it takes a humble mother, four small children, one room, two small windows, a door without a door, two bamboo mats, a charcoal pit, a broom and a dirt floor, to see myself.
In all things give thanks,