Monday, April 16, 2012
Poverty Of the Soul
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
~ Mother Teresa ~
I was not certain how I would feel in Ethiopia. How would it be to see so much poverty coming from a country of such ostentatious wealth? Would the weight of such massive disparity feel overwhelming? Would the helplessness leave me feeling paralyzed?
The truth is I felt all those things. Useless, angry, and at times dispair. We are a spoiled nation. We are spoiled individuals. The distance in wealth and the overwhelming awareness of my own sense of entitlement was polarizing. However, what left the largest impact on me was not that our 756 sq foot condo here is a large home there. Or even that I can go to the tap and pour myself a beautiful glass of clean water, something that I have not been able to stop relishing in since. The biggest residual impact has been that as a collective the people in Ethiopia are among the happiest I have ever had the fortune to meet. They are gracious, humble, polite, and smiling. They have something that as a nation we do not.
If you do not work you do not eat. They are happy to be employed. They are grateful to be working, It is such a difference in mentality as I myself have had many days when going to work felt like a huge burden. Not that I've ever had a job so horrid, my entire attitude was one of wanting without effort. In fact it is an attitude that makes it harder to not only enjoy my day, but doesn't enrich anyone else's day either. It is an attitude I dare say we have all shared in for much longer than we'd care to admit.
The orphanage had a kitchen not much larger than my own tiny one where they cook for 58 children. When we met the amazing women who do this 3 times a day they were laughing and smiling and very humble when I told them how incredible it is what they do. They didn't even seem to realize the extraordinary nature of this accomplishment. They work harder there than anyone I know and with seemingly little effort in making it fun. The inspiration there was in every corner and crevice.
It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving.
~ Mother Teresa ~
The love put into the actions was magical. The love put into the children was something you could see the children flourish with. There is love in abundance in that country. One of the employees who drove us to the southern region had a ringer on his phone I will never forget. Every time it rang a booming voice came on saying " You are blessed. You are blessed in your family. You are blessed in your work. You are blessed in your finances. You are blessed in your relationships." After spending 12 hours listening to this every 1/2 hour or so it was impossible not to feel lighter, refreshed, grateful.
While on this drive we were accompanied by nurses carrying for two eight month old babies. One was paralyzed from the waist down, and had fluid in his brain. He was suffering horrible headaches as his head grew. The other a little girl no larger than a new born. It was shocking to see and I knew the nurses and our guide were very understanding of the pain that kept crawling across our face as we looked a these precious children. We were obviously not used to seeing such suffering especially in such circumstances. While I held the tiny girl who felt lighter than a kitten I could not imagine doing a job such as this. How much emotional strength it would require. They do it though with love and kindness. They give this so freely it seems effortless. Like the earth gives freely to us, they give freely to each other and that is a lesson in being human I will forever be thankful for.
Upon arriving home I am once again caught up in my own first world issues as is human nature. While certain things in me have changed, I work harder to not waste food. I love water even more than I did, and I am challenged to give of myself more. Old habits still remain, but ultimately I think little parts of myself have been changed, and other parts have tasted the inspiration that leads to change.
Ethiopia did not just give me a beautiful son, it gave me perspective, happiness, and a desire to enrich my soul that I have somewhat neglected along this journey. For that I offer my deepest gratitude.
Where there is great love,
there are always great miracles.
~ Mother Teresa ~