Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Slower Pace

"Ahh, you have become very fat! Very fat now!"

The whole of his thin, frail frame laughs as he throws his head back in joy, while the men of Western influence chuckle nervously.

“Very fat now!”

He turns to the others and exclaims it again, and the laughter pours forth. Yes, life has been very good to me through the years, full of joys and hurts, tears and laughter, and little hands pull at my skirt. This patriarch of many laughs as he embraces, kisses, and greets all in the room.

It is a large, rectangular sitting room; wooden boards that cover the windows now open wide, allowing the breath of God to blow in and out, and His light is the only source to bring life out of darkness. The old wooden chairs that line the walls around the room tell the stories of visitors past, with dents and chips in the wood, and turquoise cushions peaking out from the shreds of the once brightly colored fabrics that cover them. Beat up wooden tables full of character and years fill the space in the middle of the room.

The walls echo of the lives that have passed through this room, grand and simple. 16 children were born and raised in this place, orphans have been taken in, visitors from afar have felt its welcome, all of their laughter and love now distant echoes in a room that now sits empty most days, save the elders who remain behind. The squeals of granddaughters from afar now awake the quiet memories, their giggles resurrecting the joy for all the years past. As I sit quietly here now and listen, murmurs of meetings, homework, children, laughter, families and life overwhelm my heart. This room has seen much.

And the matriarch stands, in quiet majesty, queen of this home for over 50 years, through births and burials, soft voice carries wisdom dealt out gently, patiently, in a tongue I do not know, this mother in love of mine. The face of this aged woman smiles as a whole as she tends to her man-son, granddaughters trailing behind her step. She serves him his favorite food, after all these years. With joy, she still knows how to make her son smile.
She prays to the God of us all, showing gratitude for years come and gone, for children come and gone, for visitors come and gone, and for the travels that bring them all home again. Wrinkled hands folded, calloused and tough by hard years of exhausting labor in the cools fields of this Kenyan village, the lines around her soft eyes speak of the smiles and squints for a lifetime.

She embodies beauty and grace.

She is clothed in strength and dignity.

She serves us traditional porridge in an old calabash and we drink in the warmth of family and home of his birth.

The brothers gather under the tree, the boardroom of this people, their lines speak of clan strength. Dirty kids chew on sugar cane and enjoy the freedom of spitting out the remains. And we pass the remains of the afternoon in this village out in the bush, the gentle breath of God blowing a breeze of refreshment over our travel-weary souls.

And we are reminded that contented simplicity far outweighs the bustle and noises that would otherwise lure and distract from this plain beauty, and that it is good to be home. 

Linking to beautiful Emily at in the hush of the moon.


  1. i love the word pictures of coming home, of the deep memories that home is and of who the people are. sorry, i'm tired and my words won't flow, but i really enjoyed this post and all the cross-cultural points. thanks for sharing. :)

  2. oh, sister, you are the one who's beautiful... and these words... you transport me and i long to know these people, this culture, their secret to contentment, and i know it's HIM but i want to know more... harder, deeper. thank you so much for these snapshots. please, keep linking up. i love learning from you, friend. xo

  3. this is beautiful, shauna! i love how you painted the room and your husband's parents love... in smiles and food, which really, is there any other love language?

  4. I love village life! You've described it so wonderfully - it's something I want to learn to appreciate for what it is. And I want to live like I'm in a village no matter where I am!


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