While staying in this compound that is a reminder of colonialism in Malawi from the past, I find myself faced daily with two different views of life. Yesterday we went for a walk to the store and at various driveways the poor were sitting hoping to sell the food they had displayed. Among the food items I noticed for sale were eggs, little dried fishes, fruit, tomatoes and some bottles of a milky looking substance in refilled used plastic soda containers. An older woman sat holding her hand out for money. A young girl sat with her 2 young sons of which the smallest was just standing and crying big crocodile tears. When we reached the store, groups of people were standing at the driveway entrance. When we came out of the store we noticed a one-legged man approaching us almost skipping on his crutch while calling for us to entertain what he had to say. The walls that surrounded each home blocked the entry of these people but not the sounds of the babies crying.
One young man walked with us almost the whole way to the store trying desperately to gain some monetary connection with us. He wanted to be our boy. He got kicked out of school because he had no money. He sang “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” He said he attended the church. He seemed to try every angle he knew. He left us as we approached the store, only to join us on our return trip. He carried our bags for us. He spoke of loving the Holy Ghost. He loved the Holy Spirit flowing over his body. Don gave him some money before we entered our gated home.
I liked the young man and had a desire for him to do well, but also saw the approach to life that had already convinced him that this was his life forever: to be somebody’s boy, to use religion against the religious, to always feel the weight of not having money and thinking that money would heal all his diseases. The sad thing is that bondage of this nature is found everywhere. We are different, yet the same.
I believe living in this walled place of beauty could become a prison if God did not keep a person’s focus. I would have to daily work to not close myself off to the need of others. I would have to resist becoming calloused and believing that none could be helped. I would have to resist becoming apathetic….I say only by living in the moment-by-moment grace of God can these things be resisted.
Walls do not have to be made of bricks with electric fences and barbed wire to encourage separation from the masses that would woo us to take on being apathetic and without relationship for fear of getting caught up in the emotions that it would take to live with focused vision. Jesus spoke of this blind vision in Matthew 13:15. It is easy to turn our vision off to the unpleasant things in life. Let us rather sing “Open My Eyes That I May See.”
One day I was taking my young grandson for a walk and was having difficulty getting him to stay out of the middle of the road instead of walking in the safeness of the edge. We came to a stand-off where he stood in the middle and refused to budge. I called his father and was instructed to hand the phone to his son. I heard, ” yes sir…yes sir….yes sir.” Then my grandson handed the phone back to me and said, “I told my daddy I would do it and I WILL do it! Where do you want me to walk grandma.”
Today I am saying, “Where do you want me to walk, Father?”