I love how nature offers us glimpses of incredible beauty in the midst of adversity. Like the exquisite white orchid that I came across outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia many years ago, growing elegantly amongst the filth and the garbage surrounding the makeshift dwellings of the very poor.
The human spirit is like that orchid ~ it has the ability to transcend even the direst of circumstances.
Recently I read a book that had a profound effect on me. So much so, that I cannot stop thinking about it, and phrases from the book keep popping unbidden into my head. The book is ‘Heart of Darfur’, a very moving account by Medicins sans Fronteirs Nurse Lisa Blaker French, of the tragedy of the war in Sudan and a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit.
It is the human story behind the media headlines, the story of the mothers, fathers and children whose lives have been uprooted and forever altered by an on-going nightmare that shows no sign of resolution.
But, as with the orchid growing in adversity, there are still moments of joy and relief, of dignity and determination, of beauty and hope in this African land coloured by conflict and broken by many, many years of war.
Reading this book, I was struck by how easy it is for us to be overwhelmed by the scale and the distance of a situation like Darfur and to look away. We justify our indifference with the knowledge that no matter how hard we try, it would be impossible to make a difference. The author of ‘Heart of Darfur’ gave this insight at the end of the book: “Apathy steals hope. But to make a difference you have to care and you have to try.”
It is actually really easy for us to make a difference in our world. And it’s not about giving huge donations, or packing up and joining an aid organization. All we have to do is listen and care.
Every bit of kindness is worthwhile. Every bit of kindness makes a difference in someone’s life. And often, it is that tiny gesture of kindness that we almost don’t do because we think it can’t possibly make a difference, that slips unasked into someone’s day and lights up their world.
That little bit of kindness can change a life.
“We have no time to listen to the poor – often they have to come again and again – walk long distances – sick, tired, in pain – to tell us of their want – of their suffering and we, because we are busy about many things, we have no time to sit and listen …
To all those who suffer and are lonely – give them always a happy smile – give them not only your ears but also your heart.” ~ Mother Teresa