An Honored Guest
I’ve never really thought of them as a whole before. All the times I’ve been an honored guest.
A co-worker just returned from Cameroon and Ghana. “Did you enjoy the dancing?” I asked. “What dancing?” “You know, the dancing at the center when you arrived. They weren’t out there with drums?” “No.” “Oh.”
In Cameroon, when I walked through an archway of flowers, this group was drumming and dancing, and I remember standing there and smiling. I loved the music, and at the same time I felt awkward to be the recipient of such attention.
I've been blessed with dances of welcome by Kenyan women, just back from a funeral of a friend who had died of AIDS. I've been honored by an entire school full of children, hundreds of them, in blue school uniforms coming out to sing me songs. I've had garlands of flowers strung around my neck in India and Bangladesh. I've met the first lady of East Timor and had a traditional tais (textile) placed on my shoulders.
When I entered a handmade paper center in Nepal last fall, a hundred artisans were lined up, each one with flowers to give to me. My arms were full and they spilled over. Abundance. And when I visited the school, the children gave me flowers as well.
I have been served fresh mangos and delicate fried leaves and meals that were spicy to my palate. I have been given the one spoon in the house to use to eat. I have been given gifts beyond measure.
We hold our things so close. As if there is a shortage. And people who to us have very little, share what they have. This is profound lesson. This is what it is to be generous.