I have found that my favorite time of mediation and prayer comes while on my morning runs. A few times a week I take off to the rice fields near our house, and Forest Gump it - running through creation. While some pieces to a jog here are warm and inviting, not every time is it always a dandy run of peace. Yes, I have a nice 3-4 mile loop; yes, there are beautiful things my eyes and heart take in; and of course, there are always new faces amazed at the site of a white guy running. However, sometimes that few mile loop gets too long, sometimes the poverty and environmental degradation overwhelms me, and sometimes those smiling faces greet me with, “bonjour vahzah!” instead of the Malagasy greeting. This is the “Hello (in French) to foreigner/white person. It’s tricky being greeted often with the misidentified French, but I try to respond with the Malagasy hello, “Salama o!” Nonetheless, every run is a different and I never know who, or what will be greeting me on my way. My past couple of jogs have afforded me great smiles, received and given, from some friends on the rice fields.
Busy streets lead the way to the quite rice fields
Last week while running a fun thing happened. A family of kids and mom where walking my way while I was running towards them on the same path. The youngest of the group, no more than 3 or 4 years old, stuck his fist out as I approached. He had the biggest smile, along with his older brothers and sisters, and with a big “Salama e!” I went in for the bump with the little fella, and of course followed by bumping everyone, including mom. After returning from another run this morning, I was reminded of the grace of welcome and belonging, from this family. While everyday continues to offer adventure, large and small, and the feeling of belonging ebbs and flows, I give thanks for that little 2 1/2 foot dude with a fist bump for me yet again today.
Malagasy kids happy for a fist bump!
When we are not welcomed in life-giving ways, it’s hard to wipe the dust off our feet, as we are commanded by Christ in Luke 10:8-11. Sometimes the dust of our walk in faith gets really thick and stuck. Then there are those beautiful moments when we are welcomed into the lives of others. I believe that it’s in these times the Holy Spirit is at work. And no mater what day-in-day-out, my faith tells me, that we do truly walk close to the Kingdom of God. So here’s my virtual Malagasy fist bump of love to you. Boom!
Luke 10: 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
Dusty shoes from rice paddy runs