Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Preteen Thanksgiving Miracle

My son D is eleven and in fifth grade: too old for Pilgrim outfits, but not too young for profound observations. This week he brought a Thanksgiving assignment home from school that warmed my heart. He made a booklet that with each new page expressed something for which he was thankful. He was thankful for books and ramen soup, of course. And on one page he said he was thankful for his house because it has "climate control" and "plumbing" and "electricity". He explained to the reader, with a sense of you-won't-even-believe-this, that some people didn't have those things in their houses! I was delighted that he was grateful for such things. He doesn't complain because we don't have a video game system or a DVD player in our car. Instead he is sincerely grateful for what many consider the essential basics.

And I am grateful for my own opportunities to travel internationally in the last few years. I know that this has cultivated D's poverty awareness and ambient level of gratitude. He has seen my pictures and heard my stories of Kibera, the huge slum in Nairobi, Kenya with nearly a million inhabitants living on less than 700 acres: no running water, open sewers, abounding in addicts, epidemic hopelessness, a hellish place. Without a formal lecture on what he "should" be grateful for (i.e. eat your peas because there are starving people in sucn-and-such place) he has glimpsed his own level of blessedness and come away with true gratitude.

I wonder how many times I, like an unaware child, have taken blessings for granted? How often do I miss the miraculous? With what frequency am I blind to my own blindness? I am humbled and blessed by my preteen son and his eyes to see. Out of the mouth of babes...

Visiting Kibera in 2006

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