Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress: Land of the Uninvited Guest

Years ago, I was introduced to the idea of the uninvited guest by my friend Rita who always set an extra place at any holiday table. An old Polish custom,, it was held open for one of the prophets (which one I don't remember) in case he should appear unexpectedly. I have always thought it was a lovely custom and that perhaps, we might also be waiting for Jesus, or an angel unaware.

Moru Land is the land of the uninvited guest. People drop by; chairs migrate from the payot to the shade of the nearest big tree, usually a giant mango and then back. The chairs are the same plastic chairs we can buy from Home Depot/China. They have supplanted the local folding chairs crafted from local mahogany.

I have stepped into the payot to get water as I did the other day to find David, one half of the CMS couple who live just down the Juba road, sitting there with Alyssa and Akeisha, two girls from the World Harvest group in Mundri. (CMS is the Church Missionary Society out of the UK). Alyssa is a young missionary who will be in Mundri for two years and is currently living in a safari tent while Akeisha is the middle school age daughter of the senior missionary couple. She has apparently lived her whole life in one part of Africa or another. The discussion centered around being able to get goat cheese from Khartoum. There's very little dairy in this part of the world. The rest of the talk was also about food and made Mundri sound like Whole Foods south Sudan.

In the evening after supper, we sit around outside the payot and people drop by. We chat about local people, world politics and finally we all say compline together.

Stephen was telling us that if he wants to visit one of his brothers, he simply arrives and stays as long as he wants. The same thing occurs with funerals. Family and friends come from many places and long distances for the three days of the funeral. The family provides at least one tukul and the guests take turns sleeping. Food is provided for everyone.

There is a grace and fluidity to hospitality here. I will miss the ease with which people move about. It is hard to be lonely if you are near the payot. Some one will be along in a minjute.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks for this reflection under the mango tree. I imagine myself there easily and send you shade and a cool breeze. How great to think of Stephen home there with this brother and his own wife and child (children?). Know you are savoring that easy hospitality and sharing with all in their building their country back from the war. Wishing you many blessings and to all your new friends there. Peace, Mary R