Saturday, November 13, 2010

Giving Thanks/Pearls

I am reposting a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. I went to the NPR website again and read over Katy's compelling story. I listened again to Sade's "Pearls". These are such strong reminders.

Giving Thanks

I was listening to NPR the other day. It was Tuesday morning, the day before our Thanksgiving holiday break. I was tooling along, planning the menu for the big meal, right? I was looking forward to the break. My folks were coming down, we were just all just going to take it easy. Play some music, share some story, laugh, eat a lot. Family. Fellowship. Thanksgiving.

Riding along, only half listening to the radio, there was a
report from Zimbabwe. Political leaders fighting about power, the U.N. cut its food rations and they are predicting a terrible crisis.

Part of the story focused on one woman and her plight. Her name is Katy. She was searching through the dirt in a recently plowed field for single grains of corn. She hadn’t eaten for three days. Three days. She was 70 something, bending over in the blazing sun, looking for grains of corn to take back to her home and split with her grandson. Three days without food. The last thing she had eaten was a wild root. She was sick to her stomach, foraging for food for her grandson and herself, she said that all she could do was to put her faith in God.

This is one of those classic stories that make you look at the world differently. At least it did for me. You can hear that millions of people in southern Africa are at risk. That millions are hungry. And it does affect you, right? It is sad.

But sometimes it takes one person’s story to make a real difference in how you understand. Katy was literally giving her last strength to help her grandson survive. Looking at her face
(on the NPR website) makes a different, far more powerful impression. Imagine Katy times millions. In that way we can go beyond simply large numbers to looking carefully at the tragedy of real people. People who have the same joys sorrows as us. Looking into the eyes of one person makes the larger picture clearer, more focused somehow.

So at this Thanksgiving time, let us really understand the tremendous blessings we have. We have been born into a world of food and creature comforts almost unparalleled in the big picture. As we go to bed with full stomachs each night, let us be mindful of those who are hungry. And as we eat our big holiday meals, let that food give us the strength to make the world a better place.

When I was thinking of Katy in Zimbabwe - from my last post. She was picking through a recently plowed field for corn kernels to take back to her grandson. Without her, the child would surely perish. She was going to share these precious grains with him even though she hadn't eaten in three days. After writing that piece I was reminded of a song by Sade called "Pearls". If you have not heard it... you should. It is on an album called "Love Deluxe" from '92. Old school, but oh so wonderful. Smooth. Silky. Fine.

I remember washing the dishes and listening to the words - really listening. You know, sometimes when you get new music you listen first to the feel of it. It isn't until after a while that you listen to the message. Anyway, I was finally listening to the message of this lovely song. I stopped the chores I was doing and sat in front of the speakers with the liner notes in front of me, reading along as Sade sang. I listened again with my eyes closed. Mesmerized. It isn't just the lyrics. It is her voice. Hypnotic, powerful.

I hadn't heard this album in a while but after posting yesterday's piece I was drawn to it again. Once again it moved me. Here are the lyrics. If you get a chance to listen to it sometime, you should [click on one of the links above or to watch a pretty good video, check out the youtube video below]. I can't guarantee that it will make you cry but it WILL make you feel something. The hero in this song is Somalian. She is scraping for pearls on the roadside and not in the freshly plowed field that Katy searched. But they are both searching for pearls. Pearls. In Sade's song our hero is simply human, her actions and feelings universal.

there is a woman in somalia
scraping for pearls on the roadside
there's a force stronger than nature
keeps her will alive
this is how she's dying
she's dying to survive
don't know what she's made of
i would like to be that brave

she cries to the heaven above
there is a stone in my heart
she lives a life she didn't choose
and it hurts like brand-new shoes

hurts like brand-new shoes

there is a woman in somalia
the sun gives her no mercy
the same sky we lay under
burns her to the bone
long as afternoon shadows
it's gonna take her to get home
each grain carefully wrapped up
pearls for her little girl


she cries to the heaven above
there is a stone in my heart
she lives in a world she didn't choose
and it hurts like brand-new shoes
hurts like brand-new shoes

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