Understanding Goes a Long Way on a Rainy Day

Ten years ago this summer, my husband and I were acting as assistant directors at a children’s’ home in Ensenada, Mexico, on the Baja peninsula. It was a hard summer, and there were unexpected lessons in each speck of the dust that permeated everything.

Stepping out on my porch one summer morning, and breathing in the very, very rare, and probably the first summer shower we had, I heard a voice calling to me across the courtyard.

“You miss the rain, and you miss your mama,” said the mamasita, in Spanish she knew I could understand.

Tears leapt to my eyes, and I replied, “Yes, it’s true,” with the Spanish I knew.

So, even though it’s been ten years this summer, on a misty, rainy summer day like this one we’re having in North Carolina, I think of Chiao, and of her compassion and understanding, face to face, with universal words that in their simplicity, addressed complex feelings and the culture shock I was in.

How I use that lesson from this wise mamasita is now up to me. Loving my neighbor through understanding and simple words. Not trying to solve every problem all at once, with rants, anger, and frustration. Chiao could have been frustrated with, or even hated me. A rich white woman standing on a porch in beautiful Baja, Mexico, well-fed and well-dressed, feeling sorry for herself. (Which was really the truth of the matter, though it pains me to admit it.) Instead, she took an opportunity to look at me and offer what she had. Words that were more than words.

I’m still grateful for the compassion and understanding from a woman who did not have to offer it. Or even have it. I’m grateful for a break in the summer heat with a misty day like this one. I’m grateful for my mama. And I’m grateful for the lesson Chiao unknowingly gave me.

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