In the early 80’s I had joined the Army in the service of my country and ended up being stationed in Germany. West Germany at the time as the cold war was at it’s pinnacle and ready to collapse from within. The reasons for that collapse are many. While in Germany I received many treasures I shall revisit many times in my heart and have already in times of sadness or when I begin to get thick headed and arrogant.
The story I share is of the love of people and a meal that is a treasure in my heart of love that is worth more than all the Earthly Treasures buried with the Pharos of old. A meal taken with the poorest of poor in a Ghetto located in the City of Munster. The residents where mostly of Arab and Middle Eastern dissent however there were India’s as well as Africa’s Beautiful people as well. All fleeing something worse and to young man from the U.S. and from a poor family I couldn’t imagine at the time what could be worse, especially after the meal.
I had been in Germany for a few weeks and went out with a friend of mine to acquire a chunk of Hashish, from his source in the closest city to where I was stationed. A small farm town where we hid Nukes the ones I guarded. Usually Ali just met us at a local bar this time however his mother was just in and he could not leave as it would have been very disrespectful to miss her welcome dinner. We hopped in a cab and gave the driver the address. He looked at the two Young Americans and commented “Where, are you sure?”
We ended up being dropped off at a slum worst than the ones I have been in, in NY, NJ, and many other projects I have been in. We saw Ali as we exited the cab, he came to greet us and show us his home. I wondered how he could live in such a place and why, as we walked through the first Hallway I noticed many people, old, young, women, children and very few men. They were grouped and speaking in what seemed to me to be a family style gathering. We went to his place and he got our Hashish. As we were leaving his mother entered and after introductions she invited us to stay and eat with them.
We accepted graciously after I twisted my friends arm and shared the thought of it would be very rude to decline her personal invitation. He voiced the same thing my head voiced” Are you crazy this is not a BBQ in Texas or Colorado this is the bottom” My heart however and my manors forbid me to decline. We entered the hallway we had come through to get to Ali’s apartment and the crowd was some what larger. Every one had some type of plate or bowl perhaps a cup. I was given a special guest bowl a container that probably held a version of tang judging by the shape and color. The smell of scorched rice filled the air as the “Dutchie” was brought in from an apartment on the side. The communal pot had been used many times and had most likely never been washed. Layers of burnt rice and starch lined the pan breaking off as it got to thick and permeating the rice with flavor.
To me I almost gagged at the smell and questioned my not using my head and my friends reasoning and got out of there. It must have been written on my face as I took my hand and scooped some rice out of the pot that so many other hands had just been in. Then I got one of my most, fondest treasures and my personal first taste of true humility. A young boy of about five came and sat down beside me, his English was actually very good for a five year old. He looked up and smiled digging in his pocket he found a half a sugar packet and sprinkled a little of it on my rice then his. He then said “It helps get past the burnt taste, it is like this most day’s sometimes we get fruit to go with it and that is my favorite.” I could not even explain the feeling that consumed me at that moment other than my love and compassion through my empathy put me on my knees in awe of that young child and his loving disposition and that of all who share in such a way. Those people shared a gift of love with each other and with me that humbled me and gave me one of the greatest treasures in my Heavenly Chest. The love they shared they had and have shared in far worse physical conditions yet the energy of their love was very great and touched my core.
Thank you for allowing me to share a thought or two and a piece of my heart that may help another through a bad time or good and remind us of how fortunate we are to have the gift of Love and light in our at times dark world. I hope we can all share a smile and some love the most powerful gift we have and the most powerful force in our universe for without it we would not be here. Than you again for your time and for being the change positive, making our world a better place.