Friday, October 25, 2013

The Greeks always fed their guests before asking questions

 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Matthew 25:44

So, last night another young man showed up on the front doorstep. And it is more clear that way. The welcome-him-in command is so very clear. The Greek: ξενία or xenía, translated "guest-friendship, the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home," is probably, no certainly, my favorite bit about reading The Odyssey with a bunch of high school students thus far.

And we are all far from home. We are all sojourners.

And as my class worked through their response to the Steinbeck gauntlet of speaking up for the destitute we heard each of these stories, those of the hungry on the streets of Tucson, those of the wandering across African plains, those whose clothing has been ripped off, those who are spewing sick hatred, and those whose hope for a future has been locked behind bars.

And the thirsty. More people in the world have cell phones than toilets. Yesterday the Environmental Science class first calculated how many milliliters of water one might use in washing their hands well singing a cheery ABC song. And then each student calculated how many times a day hands should be washed in a typical day in their household-after defecating, before preparing food, before meals. And after multiplying and dividing by how many liters can reasonably be carried up the pebbled path from the river, we figured out that why so many kids are sick across the world... Forty percent of cases of diarrhea are caused by not washing hands. And I colored in the black and white lines with stories of whacking latrine lids with a stick so the cockroaches run down and whacking pigs when you have to go out in the ravine behind the house. And then we watched YouTubes of the cutest kids ever and their mommas learning from passionate health care workers in crowded thatched huts. And while the lights were still out, I told a story about when Baby Nicole and I walked through the dark valley of not enough potable water with eleven other women and their strapped-down-onto-plywood-boards-babies in the rehydration center in San Jose de Ocoa.

Because I want each one of us to notice the young man on our doorstep. Because we are without excuse.