This true story was told to me by Jo Radner. Years ago Mary was a young woman working in the Peace Corps in Africa. She befriended Abena from a local village who had endured a string of hardships including the loss of her husband to tribal feuds and lost a child from malaria. Mary spent a much of her energy between her work duties to nurture Abena to health and support her family with food, company, and hope. Abena was a skilled weaver and later, with new-found energy, spent her off hours gathering trace pieces of cloth and thread and fabric to weave a beautiful small tapestry as a gift of thanks for Mary’s birthday.
When Mary’s birthday arrived, Abena filled her skin with water and set off on the five mile journey to deliver her gift. The sun was strong and hot winds blew in her face and parched her lips. She finished her water only halfway on her walk and arrived exhausted. Mary greeted her with cool towels for her feet and water to drink. They spent the afternoon sharing stories of their families, their hopes and dreams.
As the evening light approached Abena rose to leave. Mary filled her skin with fresh water from the well and called for a mule-cart to bring Abena back to her village. Abena stopped her gently, “Please understand your generosity is not necessary. Understand that my walk is part of the gift.”
Let all of our efforts of gratitude be in the walk. Enjoy.