Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Hundred Hugs

If twelve hugs daily is supposed to make us thrive, then I should be in excellent shape for the remainder of our trip and beyond. Yesterday, we visited the Nyanya grandmothers in the countryside outside of Kigali and were so warmly welcomed that it brought tears to my eyes more than once. Beautiful, determined, incredibly strong women surrounded us at each site, eager to show us their projects: growing peppers, preparing to grow mushrooms. Dressed in their best garments, they presented the image of a colorful bouquet, each flower unique and lovely, each one adding to the overall beauty of the whole. 

There is no way to adequately describe what it means, how it feels, to be welcomed so warmly and unrestrainedly by complete strangers...and in "real life", it all to seldom happens. We Americans have become suspicious of strangers, the "Other" who does not look like us, sound like us, smell like us, experience life as we do. But as I looked into the faces of each of these women- and I did look- I saw and felt a connection, a deep connection. Though we come from such different places, have such disparate lives, WE ARE ONE. The only separations are the ones we place between us by our prejudices, our stereotyping, our sense of entitlement. In the eyes of each of those Rwanda women I saw reflected my own loving concern for my family, my own pain at the losses in my life, my own hopes and dreams for the future. What we share is so much more than what separates us...so when will we human creatures ever learn this? 

I am so thankful, feel so incredibly blessed to have this journey as part of my life. And I hope the feelings of connection, hope, courage I have felt will stay with me, become part of me each day for the rest of my life. Let it be so.

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