The day a baby is born among the Ngoni of Mchinji in Malawi, is usually one of the most beautiful days where smiles, laughter, happy faces are seen, and stories are shared and heard all over, and the joy around the neighbourhood is simply contagious. We hear from all sides the drumming, ululation, gifts are brought for the baby and the parents, there is even singing and dancing which are the best part for me!
But what is this whole celebration about? It is a celebration of life, it is an appreciation of the gift that the parents have received, together with the whole community and the society. Just imagine how mothers run to rescue a child from wandering off to the road or how they run to bring them back home when they are running away because they do not want to have a bath! I miss those childhood fun moments. They are to me a great reminder of how precious my life is, not just to myself but to others also. By making such memories, I gave my mum and siblings who would watch me run, a gift, of my presence and humour.
I am trying to imagine when I began to play, sit, walk, talk even sing! These new steps brought great joy in the lives of the people around me. Their love and care in seeing that I am warm enough, dry, that the diaper has been changed, that we have eaten and showered, that I am happy and growing up healthy, are a sure sign of how dearly I have been loved, because I am a precious pearl, a gift to them, and they too to me.
As we continue growing sometimes we meet challenges and life might not seem to look like a gift anymore.
I know of a young man who had a happy childhood, but when he grew up he could not find a decent job, nor a young lady to marry him because he was jobless. Due to his frustration he decided to take his own life. The night before that fateful day when he was to take his own life, he had a mysterious dream. His whole life was shown to him like in a movie, all the joys he had experienced in life while growing up, and the sad times and how the beautiful moments had overshadowed them. When he woke up he looked at the materials he had prepared for his ‘last’ job, he wept and saw that there had been so much good that he had managed to do with his life already, taking his own life would hinder him from discovering what else he could do in life. When he left his room he met his neighbour who smiled at him and wished him a happy day. That moment was a gift which he needed, to reaffirm that his presence was a gift to others, and that of others to him.
Not everyone gets to experience a childhood that is filled with happy memories but all of us are precious in the sight of God. Even our experiences no matter what they are should become stepping stones to a better life.
Talking about stepping stones we may take the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Bible. Joseph was sold out of jealousy by his brothers. Life was very hard for him but despite all the difficulties he faced he still became the only saviour for his people in time of famine. Life may be difficult now but let us look into the future with hope that all will be better.
Life is a gift, it is a precious pearl, and its preciousness can become fruitful if:
- I make great use of it to discover what I am capable of doing for myself and for others;
- I appreciate what I have, be it intelligence, material things, or beautiful inspirations;
- I take time to appreciate nature and learn from it;
- I appreciate the people around me like family, friends and new people I come across and the beauty they reinforce in my life.
- I appreciate the small things in life like greetings, a smile, a pat on the back, a compliment, even being corrected.
- I remember some childhood fun moments; they will help me to understand how much I have been loved and am still loved and appreciated.