We give things away because we need to,
we literally learn to give gifts
to strangers, with labels
to fix ourselves.
We do this as a process
until we are ready to be the gift.
I give and give and give
until I learn to be the gift.
This is not clever word play, it is the normal path.
Small kids are taught to share, we celebrate when they share food and toys.
Then we lose it, for pragmatic justifications of comfort and safety.
Life becomes small as we become big.
As a youngster I used to be very active in church life.
In my twenties I lived in a rural Mozambican village for six years.
I got a Masters in Development Studies.
I’m leading a large national non-profit.
Yet, I’m learning most, seeing most, from ordinary people around me
ordinary people being extra-ordinary generous.
I present four life giving, mind blowing examples:
Thulani, picked up a disabled abandoned baby in Umlazi, he and his wife took this baby under their care, despite living in a RDP house and having very little themselves.
My sister Sunelle and her husband, after having three amazing biological kids, Adopted a black baby called Joshua. They too are not wealthy. Much wealthier than Thulani, but on a tight budget and vulnerable compared to other Afrikaans families.
Thulani and Sunelle might be so good and courageous that we don’t associate with them, we
play games in our heads that call them special or gifted, unlike us…
My other sister Irma and her husband went on holiday in December and took a young white girl from their kid’s school with them. The girl, Leanne lives with a single mom, has never seen the ocean and never had a Christmas gift. She is very poor, by any standard, but enjoyed a fantastic December with our Van Heerden family, and she was a gift to us.
My friend Adri-Marie van Heerden, opened up their fancy family home in the bushveld, and not only invited Anathi (from Zandspruit Informal settlement), but allowed him to pick who goes away to the house for Easter weekend. Luckily I got invited. As I drove the open Toyota game viewer by myself, between wild animals, I felt privilege, free and lucky. So did Anathi. He told me that usually everything has to go right, and then after 30 years of work one might be able to enjoy such a weekend.
That is when I was reminded, not just of heroes like Thulani and Sunelle, but smart courageous
non-assholes like Irma and Adri-Marie who chose to realise a human hospitality that pulls ubuntu out of dictionaries, power-points and philosophy books and cleaned our eyes with it, wiped our faces fresh and folded around our hearts.
It is that easy.
So, take your pick.
Too scared to adopt an abandoned baby?
Take someone on holiday, your holiday.
give the kind of love that smells of respect and looks like dignity…
We have to give,
until we learn
how to be