It’s hard to understand the feelings that suddenly wash over me and bring tears on such short notice. As I wrote in one of my earlier blogs, I am generally not a crier, but this seems to be changing. I believe it is related to that experience of being broken open on a deep level.
The experience of fully opening my heart to ALL the profound mysteries, vulnerability, and levels of experience available to us if we show up and feel and listen with all of our senses and awareness.
This morning we journeyed by truck into a remote village, Yesayo Moyo, set up for us by Florence, a woman of great leadership in her village. She rides her bike 90 minutes to and from Wells For Zoe, an NGO building wells in remote communities here. She has great influence with the chiefs and set up the meeting for Carol and Steve who want to do a Christmas project for some needy families.
The journey required 4 wheel drive over a deeply rutted and dusty road. The village people greeted us with enthusiasm and the usual formal greetings and handshakes. Malawi custom dictates a certain handshake to show respect, as demonstrated by Ambassador Palmer in the photo below. Florence also bowed when addressing the chief at any time as is the custom in the villages.
Tidy, orderly and modest would describe the scene on arrival. Malawians are obsessed with sweeping the ground to clear it of debris. The 30 or so children gathered and stared at us, enjoying the change in their routine. After a trip to the well so Steve could diagnose the problem we had the introductions and were seated before the village chief and his deputies as well as the women leaders. As I looked before me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be experiencing this kind of coming together of such vastly different cultures and worlds.
In typical fashion, the pow wow began with a prayer, and that is when I came undone, privately. Bowing my head, I listened to the prayer in a language I could not understand but was completely overwhelmed with the intimacy and grace of the moment. That these people had welcomed us into their humble world so lovingly. But mostly I felt this overwhelming presence of spirit, of community, of humility.
None of the children were wearing shoes, their clothes were completely filthy and tattered. Yet all were smiling and on their best behavior. The men were seated apart from the group as if observing and monitoring. Their clothing also in shreds and several had no shoes. One woman in particular caught my attention, seated in front of me on a doorstep. She just emanated a sense of composure, beauty and grace that attracted me to her.
The prayer called to the innermost part of me by reminding me of the faith that people rely on that have nothing. In comparison, I worry about what new skirt I will have made or whether I will put on makeup today; what type of meat I will have for dinner and what I will order from Amazon. The juxtaposition of these two worlds is both humiliating and infuriating at the same time, if that makes sense.
The kids cannot go to school as it is too far to walk. There are no vehicles for transportation. Most do not get medical or dental care at all. When seeing this overwhelming need and then multiplying by the thousands of others that are in the same state, I just don’t know where to turn with this. I came home and took a nap. Sometimes it’s the only way to cope.
The chief and the surrounding village women will organize the 25 most needy families to receive Christmas baskets. How do you stop at 25?
My reality for the rest of the day is I am going to a Halloween party and dressing up in costume. This seems completely oppositional to my morning but it is reality and for now, I accept it.