Yesterday I met a woman who had no food.
She had no food because all her money is spent on food for her animals.
Her hands shook, constantly, her eyes darted about as if waiting for something terrible to happen.
Like a frightened child, quivering and shivering in a corner in the dark. We talked, another woman made her a cuppa. I asked if there was anything she needed. Holding tenderly her long, thick, carefully woven plait which hung down her side, over her shoulder. The top of her head covered by a beaded denim cap, her eyes filled with tears and she replied “Shampoo”. ‘
I left her with the other woman and they emerged together after a little while. No longer was she shaking, no longer was she radiating fear! A broad smile, words of gratitude for the food, for the comfort of the shampoo and the offer of a healing fragrant oils experience in a couple of days.
Yesterday I met a woman whose beloved husband is close to death. The rapidity of his decline has left them both in shock. She welcomed me into her home. It was the first time I had met her. We talked for a long time. She looked so tired, worn weary by the rapid, agonizing journey. We talked of God. We talked of history. We talked of music and its power. We talked of my Mother and hers, still alive and soon to be 102. A woman of uncompromising faith. A woman whose hope remains and all the while her husband lying, dying in the front room. A dignified, intelligent, connected woman who even in the deep sadness of the reality soon to come for her and their children, could speak of life beyond – for him and for her.
Yesterday I read the words of a woman. Word that paralized me. Words that I allowed to paralize me with self doubt and hurt. Words offered as advice but words that I allowed to harm me. “A good leader does not treat people like children”and that set me to thinking.
How do I treat children? My own, my grandchildren, other people’s children. First of all , I love them. Secondly I learn from them – their honesty, their sense of fun, their lack of judgment when it comes to others, their inclusivity, their sense of wonder, their capacity to laugh at the little joys and break forth into gales of glee at the shockingly hilarious! Jesus said “let the little children come to me” and I don’t think it was because he wanted to correct them or reshape them or judge them “unless you become like these, you cannot enter the kingdom”. That’s the kind of leader for me!
And today I met a woman whose words I recognised. A list of dates . A chronology of events that occur annually for her. Joys and pathos, doubt and faith rolled into one, slightly verbose Facebook memory. I know this woman. This woman is a leader, this woman loves and is loved. This woman is me.
And like Maya Angelou – Today I rise!