If the variety and chaos and lack of aggression of the Traffic in the Philippines is the first thing that hits you as it did me, because of how in your face it is, the Hospitality and Generosity of the Filipino people will hit you in your heart.
i have always found it quite a hard piece to navigate when time after time in my life it has been the poor who have consistently been the most generous and hospitable people i have encountered. On reflection i think the word ‘poor’ and our associations with it are unfortunate because there is definitely a richness of spirit and a different kind of wealth that exists in someone who offers all they have for the comfort of another. Whereas for those who hoard and live in excess and are preoccupied with comfort, there is a deep poverty of spirit and perhaps even soul that is being eroded on a daily basis by greed and selfishness and the lack of thought for those less well off.
Throughout the Philippines though, with people the Duffields knew and with complete strangers and new friends, there was a hospitality and generosity that i have never experienced in greater doses. It reminded me of experiences in rural Umtata in the Transkei and of time spent in Malawi back in 2000. But because this was a much longer trip than time spent in those places we got to experience it a lot more. Same heartbeat though – those who are not possessed by the things they think they possess.
Community seems to play a huge role in this. Extended family. The spirit of Ubuntu even if they don’t know the word. i am a person through people. Your need is my need and my excess is your excess. Although even my enough or less than enough is yours. We will eat together today and tomorrow will figure itself out. A big part of this may be that so many people are growing a lot of their own food so there is easy access. And rice is a staple so huge bags of race that would be enough to fill you if there wasn’t anything else. And yet there always was something else.
It is humbling to be offered so much from those who seem to have so little. But the depth of fellowship and connection that results from that, no money in the world can buy. So maybe not just wealthy but wise as well.
We accredit the rich with wealth and wisdom and yet the rich so often treat those not like them so very badly. Perhaps this is just one more area we have gotten so wrong?
[For another Reflection around Disciplines and Rhythms, click here]