When you go

By Earl Martin
MCC Akron

When you enter a new culture, or return to a culture after an absence:

Watch carefully. As a child.
Keep your eyes open. Pay attention.
Observe closely the customs of people.
Try out those customs yourself, if at all thinkable.

Listen closely. As a child.
Hear the words of the beggar and the priest.
Learn the long vowels and clipped consonants.
Attune carefully to the silences of what cannot be spoken.

Ask questions. As a child.
Inquire to learn with wonder, not to judge or make some point.
Find out what is most important to grandmas and children.
Discover who and what comes first to the mother in her prayers.

Feel deeply. As a child.
Laugh easily with the saint and the clown.
Weep with the farmer's lost harvest or the bereaved spouse.
Celebrate extravagantly the marriage of the village lad.

Share stories. As a child.
Let your once-upon-a-times so enchant that the moral need not be spoken.
Polish the story so that its truest truth will shine.
Gather embers of new stories from the local fires.

Pray fervently. As a child.
Make supplication first for yourself to open your spirit.
Remember true change always involves a change of heart.
Catch the startling flashes of Godspirit in people around you.