Or, the Second Feeding of the Little Apple Girl.
Of all the countries in the world that I visited this year, Malawi was by far my favorite. Until about five minutes ago, when Guatemala took it by a landslide. What happened? Oh, just wait. Even for me, the woman with the imagination of a six year old girl, this one was a stretch.
I crawled into bed hours ago, enjoying the quiet after a day spent tumbleweeding around Northern Georgia with my incredible parents. I tuned my poor little MacBook–who’s frail condition seems to be dilapidating quickly if her wheezing is any indication–to Netflix. Lately, I’ve rediscovered my love of fairy tales with the entrance of ABC’s Once Upon a Time into my life. When I’m busy, I’m not one to spend time with TV, but during this season of rest, I’ve given myself a break. Tonight, a fairytale was exactly what I needed.
It’s been a day of memories. In the faux German town of Helen, we walked around a crowded Octoberfest. Men in lederhosen and girls in derndals drank Pilsen beers from red Dixie cups and over-priced steins. I missed Vilseck. It was funny how, when faced with the imitation, I longed for the authentic. Then in Dahlonega, a town I knew I’d love before ever seeing it, I saw the figure of a man I knew once.
“They all look like him from the back,” my mom told me when she saw me pause. It’s true. Any tall, broad shouldered man with a crew cut does look like him. Funny though, how when faced with the fake, I instinctively craved the real. I haven’t felt that in a long time, but it left as quickly as it came.
Tonight, I wanted something that would be mindless and warmth-bringing. Something that would-in a small way-restore my hope in things like home and true love. Not that I haven’t believed in those things lately, just that I wanted to see it play out. I wanted a hero, a happy ending.
And so I watched as Snow White and Prince Charming (whose name is James, apparently) fell in love. Snow’s a spunky girl and Charming is as, well, charming as the name implies. Rumplestiltskin walks the line between evil and mischevious, while the Queen is somehow, endearingly lost. What can I say? I’m hooked.
I logged onto my USAA account just before trying to fall asleep. Boy was that a shock. On it I found an empty checking account, the last transactions made from some random place in Malawi amounting almost $40 USD. In America, that might not seem like a lot, but I know how many kilos of posho and sardines it will buy.
I hope whoever took my money bought food with it.
And honestly, to me, $40 feels like a lot of money. In the middle of support raising for CGA and figuring out how I’m going to pay my bills in the midst of it, $40 feels like a lot. It was probably someone really random who took my information and my card, someone who thought I’d have random cash to spare. Someone who saw me in the market or the place where we ate on weekends and thought that being white meant I’d have money to burn.
Because all white folks look the same from the back, right?
It felt personal. And it probably wasn’t. It probably had nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone who needed medicine or food or a house… but it felt personal. On hold with USAA (my brilliant, wonderful bank) I put my head in my hands and prayed.
He answered me instantly.
You said you wanted to learn mercy. So, learn mercy.
Blessed are the merciful.
Mercy isn’t for people who deserve it. Mercy isn’t for situations that can be answered with instantaneous, easy forgiveness. Mercy has to cost me something because if it doesn’t then it’s too easy. Mercy is for people who see Kwacha signs when they look at you instead of a name, a face, a history or a support account. Mercy is for people who mean for things to be personal. Mercy is for this night and this person, or people, wherever they are.
Here’s to learning mercy, and believing that the money went to feed one of the girls selling apples.