A Different Kind of Life

Slowing down for the holidays, breathing slowly enough that we consciously feel our breath enter and leave our lugs. It is often our hope that we get beyond the commercialism we’ve created and actually enjoy or families and friends in this Christmas season. Hopefully we succeed to some degree.

Yet, our two weeks of holidays will pass. The kids will return to school. Adults will return to their jobs or whatever occupies their time. The speed of life will go back to 70 miles per hour with an occasional speed bump.

Admittedly, when in Africa, sometimes I do miss our American ambition, desire for the next activity, and the conversations about what we accomplished on any given day. Yet, finding time for a long and deep conversation with a friend over lunch, coffee, or your preferred beverage, is most often the exception in our world.

Life is different here in Africa. Stopping alongside the road when meeting a friend requires more than a quick hello. Ambitions and tasks subside to secondary positions in the life of a day when friends and family cause interruptions. Ironically, as my young son reminded me this morning, they still work harder than we do, but the work gets done when it gets done rather than pushing off relationships until what we generally refer to as ‘after work.’

The way Africans form the story and meaning of their lives is intriguing. Their neighbors, whether family or friend or stranger, matter to their life stories in a way we often fail to recognize in our American lives. The depth of the goodness of caring for both neighbor and stranger is embedded in our humanity, and too often we forget this reality.

At this Christmas time, remember that Jesus calls us back to the best of our humanity – to find time and resources to love our neighbor and the strangers in our midst. Perhaps we can carry a bit of this reality into 2013 so we become a bit more human and a bit more like our Kenyan brothers and sisters.

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