Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dazzled by Gratitude

Gratitude is handled differently in other cultures. Ugandans seem to have a better take on it than we do. They can dazzle you with their gratitude. I want to be dazzled by gratitutde and to dazzle others with my gratitude.

Uganda, like most of Africa, has been full to overflowing with Obama-mania. It would be hard to imagine if one wasn’t there. When I walk into town, TVs are on in some shops and people crowd around them watching Obama. Unknown people high-five you on the street asking if you are for Obama. The newspapers are full of pictures and stories of Obama.

I meet the only person not for Obama--a surgeon from Dallas who is staying at the same Guest House in Kampala as my friends and I. He’s a staunch Republican who is returning a second time for a stint at Mulago Hospital. Oh, and he is black and originally from Uganda but left when he was a young child.

My friend argues with him over breakfast each morning. One morning he tells us that the reason he likes working in Uganda is because people are grateful for what you do for them. They thank you and mean it. This is something with which we can all agree. We have found at last some common ground.

On the way to the airport later that week, a couple of us are waiting outside a hotel in the van. Julie, our coordinator is standing by the door with Abdul, the driver. Harry has slept in. He comes running out and throws a couple of bags in the back. Then he drops a lumpy plastic bag and a pair of shiny black leather shoes by the door of the van and says quickly, “These are for you, Abdul.”

Julie and George turn to watch him as he races back to the hotel.

”Is he giving these to Abdul?” asks Julie, slowly pulling out two shirts and a pair of jogging pants.

“I think so,” I reply. “He’s a bit flustered because he’s late.”

“And the shoes?” inquires Julie, holding them up.

“Seems so,” I nod, as Julie hands then to Abdul

Abdul holds them close to his chest and says, ‘It feels like Xmas!”

As Harry brings out the last of his bags, Abdul is waiting by the door of the van to thank him and shake his hand. Harry is in a rush as he jumps in the van and doesn’t notice so Abdul just says his thank you.

‘No problem,” responds Harry, snapping in his seat belt.

“Abdul said it feels like Xmas”, I comment.

A huge grin lights up Harry’s face as the warmth of the gratitude dazzles him and we all laugh.

Still what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled

To cast aside the weight of facts

And maybe even to float a little above this difficult world

I want to believe I am looking into the white fire of a great mystery

I want to believe imperfections are nothing

That the light is everything

That it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and falling

And I do --Rumi

Photos: Kids at window; Kids with blue cloth; Kids at Kinoni



Blogger Ruth said...

What a great post. I wonder if anything in North America "dazzles" us anymore? Nice to see you in the blogosphere again.

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB - you couldn't be more right in this - what a fantastic observation! Sadly we expats are so embarrassed by gratitude (is it our guilt? or our incessant hurry?) that we rarely allow ourselves to be dazzled. Thanks for this! AMB

12:52 AM  
Blogger Bongi said...

africa runs in the blood. it is like a disease i suppose and i'm infected.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really a well laid out website. I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work and please stop by my site sometime. The url is

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Medical Spa MD said...

"I want to be dazzled by gratitutde and to dazzle others with my gratitude."

This time of year I find myself reflecting on gratitude as well. I love the phrase "dazzled by gratitude." Indeed, we all have much to be grateful for.

5:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Add this blog to my Technorati Favorites!