"Now I've been happy latelyThinking about the good things to come And I believe it could be Something good has begun." -Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam)
This morning I'm loading a plane to Ethiopia, where I'll be hanging out with the good people of Help One Now. Good people like Mike Rusch, whom, as luck would have it, I happened across at a random baggage claim in Charlotte. He hears no evil.
Last night, we slept in Washington DC, the political seat of global capitalism, of wealth, of power. We respectfully declined our presidential invite to dinner at the White House, and opted instead to sit around the table of a pub that called itself "Irish" (but only on account of the fact that it served shepherd's pie and Guinness beer). It was a good crew of folks, some of whom I've known a while, some of whom I'm glad to call new friends. Chris Marlow was there. He speaks no evil.
In an hour, we're off to Addis Ababa. From there, we'll head southward down choppy dirt roads and into the heart of a majority Muslim population. We'll eat simple food, among good and simple people. We'll play games with local children; climb a sturdy blackwood tree; laugh. We will spend time with the local leaders, learn their culture, hear their thoughts about vulnerable children in their community.
"Oh, I've been smiling lately Dreaming about the world as one And I believe it could be Some day it's going to come."
Every trip to a developing country presents contrasting monetary dichotomies. The evening before, we're dressed in our skinny self-importance, our well-tailored consumerism, our easy way of conversational dining. The next, we're standing on dirt roads, smelling country air, eating simple starches, and playing with children despite a language barrier that feels more akin to the Great Wall.
"[T]here is no Islamic, Christian, or Jewish way of breathing. There is no American, African, or Asian way of breathing. There is no rich or poor way of breathing. ... The air of the earth is one and the same air, and this divine wind 'blows where it will' (John 3:8)--which appears to be everywhere." -Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 26.
This morning I'm looking past the juxtapositions, though. I'm thinking about the commonalities, the things that bind us. We breathe the "same air," as Rohr writes. We all double over in laughter, all heave at the butt of any joke. Isn't it a delightful sound? We share the same hyperventilating way of mourning, too. We all wail the same.
Yes, we're leaving on a jet plane. I hope we go in humility. Maybe the key to true humility is to realize that, in the end, we are all one and the same. Maybe the key to true humility is understanding that we've all been given the same breath of God. Maybe the key to true humility is in the knowing that each has been given the opportunity to seek union with the Divine.
I hope we go with this kind of humility. I hope we see the Divine.
I'm not sure when I'll have access and time to update, but stay tuned.
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