Humility: A virtue for all and for all seasons
At school in Pakistan children learn lessons in kindness and generosity
‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’Colossians 3:12
Over the years I have often read of women in Pakistan who give birth to their children in rickshaws. It happens not only in a far-off village but in a big city like Lahore. It is not possible for the poor to call an ambulance. Likewise, it is not possible for them to register at a hospital before delivery.
These women seldom see a doctor because they do not have money; therefore, they don’t know the exact or even approximate time of the child’s birth.
Whenever I read such incidents, I feel very sad and distressed. In a culture where women don’t go out alone, where women don’t show their faces to others and especially not to unknown men, what do these women go through when they are forced to deliver their babies where an unknown man, a rickshaw driver, witnesses this moment which is very private in our culture?
I often think maybe it is the birth of Jesus which is happening every so often in the auto-rickshaws because the poor cannot get a little place in the inn. Jesus’ birth in the manger makes us think of the insensitive innkeepers who let the pregnant woman feel the insecurity and fearfulness of the unknown — the unknown of the approaching moment, the doubts and fears, the pains, the discomforts of the unfamiliar surroundings.
As God plans all our lives so He must have planned that His Son would be born in a humble abode. God, the Almighty, manifests Himself in the helpless woman, Mary, the helpless man, Joseph, and the helpless child, Jesus.
And that manifesting is not over; God comes to us every day in the face of a helpless woman who gives birth in the rickshaw, in the face of an uncomfortable rickshaw driver, in the face of a helpless child born in such an extraordinary place which is unthinkable to most.
In our school we talk about the humility of which the birth of Jesus reminds us. Each year, we invite special guests who traditionally give a Christmas donation to the school, even just a pack of chocolate.
The day of the Christmas assembly, children were asked questions about where Jesus was born and who were the first who received news about his birth. The kids replied that Jesus was born in a stable of animals, and that shepherds were the first to be told about his birth, not the rich kings. They were told a little about humility and were asked if we could invite Emmanuel, our watchman, to be a chief guest, keeping in mind the humility of Jesus. The kids cheered.
So our watchman was the chief guest for our Christmas tree decorating competition (with financial help from our Community we provided plants to each class). The kids collected money and bought a gift for him: a warm hat because he rides his bicycle to the school each morning in the cold.
Emmanuel could not believe his ears when I told him that he was the chief guest. He had tears in his eyes and walked with me to the school where he was garlanded and welcomed by little kids. Then he visited each class and inspected the decorations and presented the gifts to the outstanding class.
Donations to our Pakistan fund will supply scholarships and meals.
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