The village

I have a friend from Ethiopia who always tells me wonderful stories of Ethiopian traditions that makes me want to move my family there, live in a small little village and raise a gabillion babies.

I’ve written about her a couple times before: on our juxtaposing cultures regarding pregnancy and the postpartum period — and also about the scarcity of modern conveniences, like electricity.

And then, yesterday, she told me her marriage proposal story. Ah, sweet love.

I won’t give you a total play by play, but it goes a little something like this:

Instead of boy proposing to girl, boy sends “representatives” on his behalf to visit the parents of the girl. The representatives are carefully chosen — and in her case, it was her now-husband’s father, uncle and the Deacon at their church.

The representatives then state their reasons for why their “boy” is suitable for the parents’ daughter. They do this all standing up. They are not allowed to sit down until the parents give their consent — or, I assume in some cases, their big fat no. Then after the talk, they eat a lot of food. And they are happy.

It’s not that it’s an arranged thing — the two little lovebirds have courted and fallen in love — but the symbolism of two families coming together, and more importantly, the idea of community, is beautiful.

These “representatives” are meant to be in the couples’ life for, well, life. They are to help them, guide them, give them wisdom and walk with them every step of the way.

And in our often individualistic society — where we are so quick to say “mind your own business” and “this is where my lawn stops and where yours starts” — the “representative” sentiment was refreshing.

I shared the story with my Mom last night — cities away over Skype — and ironically commented, “We are so disconnected these days.”

She responded through the glowing face of my computer, “Yes, so connected, but still, so very disconnected.”

And though we have much to be amazed by and thankful for in the age of technology, I think we should always hold dear the simple truth of the village:

We are at our best when we are together.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world. – Mother Teresa

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