Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where Do Habits Come From?

It was a loooooooong day.

On Monday morning we left in a yellow school bus, bouncing the two hours down the road to the US Embassy in Managua. By 7 o'clock that night, interviews and errands later, we reached a fried chicken place for dinner.

We sat on the patio, which fronted a two lane road constantly choked with waiting traffic, 22 of us seated at tables lined up as long as our day had been. We received soda and rice, everyone trying patiently to wait for something more substantial before beginning when a scruffy man stopped on the sidewalk at our end of the table.

Scruffy in Nicaragua is a little more scruffy than scruffy in the States, and while my spanish still isn't excellent, it's not terrible, but I still couldn't really understand more than a word or two of what he said. It was obvious he was homeless, or at least was wanting for quite a bit of basic necessities.

But I've seen it, I've volunteered in homeless shelters, I've spent time with panhandlers. I've got my 'I'm sorry' answer down pat and then I make my donation to my local non-profit. All well and good, but there's something not very merciful about my attitude, merciful in the biblical sense.

Here is a man who clearly is in need, in Nicaragua, no less, where social services are even more lacking than in the US. I'm also thinking about the fact that we're an orphanage! We give! I'm giving my time! The kids are elated that they just received two pairs of pants and two shirts for a two week long trip!

So what do I do? Like any normal person, I wait to see if anyone else will do something first, like the waiter at the restaurant.

And someone else did.

First the little boy to my left gave the 20 cents he had, and then the little girl across the table gave the little that she had. It's not that all children at NPH are perfect little angels, believe me, they're perfectly normal.

It's that they share everything. It's a way of life. And instead of making them selfish and want to hoard everything for themselves, it means that they simply share with those who seem to need it most. We were sitting at a table that was about to be full of food. This man only had a metal bucket with unidentifiable objects inside.

On the flip side, I'm very well acquainted with the mentality of those who have plenty in their life, but still can't seem to acquire enough for their satisfaction, more is always wanted.

So since acquiring easily becomes a habit and sharing eventually through hard work becomes a habit, I know what I am going to try to practice more!

1 comment:

Cupcake said...

Hey Nicole. Thanks for sharing this and the challenge. I have been thinking a lot about the way things always are and the desire for more lately and it is tough...honestly I rather not think about my continual desire for more and unwillingness to share. I have just been wondering if it is really the best stewardship of what I have given.
It is interesting to see the response of the children when they have not been trained to give a specific answer.
I appreciate the reminder that it is a learning process, the more I am generous and not a consumer of things, people, and money...the more it will become a life practice.