They welcomed me as the father welcomed his long lost son in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). I could not help but compare this amazing experience with what my experiences were to this point in my life, growing up in affluent neighborhoods, where you often met hostility and arrogant demands. It was in this same affluent neighborhood that I once threw newspapers as a young kid. I was good at throwing papers; I could walk down the middle of the street and place the paper near each door, except for one house. One lady wanted her paper to be exactly adjacent to the wall (not 1” away from the wall), but next to the wall. It also had to be within 1” of the end of her door as it was opened, not 2”, but less than 1” was okay as long as she could open the door without hitting the end of the newspaper and knocking it out of position. If it wasn’t perfect, if her reach was one inch longer, I got a filed complaint.
Arrogant demands don’t just occur in affluent neighborhoods, but also seem to be the norm in neighborhoods of the angry poor. Actually, I believe money has nothing to do with it; this is a matter of what you give or what you take. We’re talking attitude; attitude that you indeed can control…if you want to. Ask yourself, do you take away from others to benefit yourself? Parasite vines can strangle a tree. Or, do you provide shade and structure [comfort] for those around you, whether family or stranger? Let’s get back to “my schooling” at Wally’s home to see how his parents can also teach us all something.
My growing period in this environment in Cuba, New Mexico, was not yet over; we headed up the family’s mountain…it was their mountain! We came to a little one room shack, a hand-me-down shack used by the family’s many generations that went before. It was a shack with no plumbing or much of anything for that matter. It was built of exposed wood studs with no insulation (did I mention it was wintertime in the mountains?), studs only covered with loose wood siding, some of it missing as I could see trees through the wall. There were a few windows, all with no glass in the frames, and sort of a shingle roof with a great view of the stars as I would discover later lying in bed. Before we turned in for the evening, we had to put up anything metallic. When I inquired why, Wally told me, pack rats. They would carry away anything of metal; wonderful, now I’m sharing a shack with rats!