Civility and Acceptance

By Ron Kearns

A few days ago while walking down a tiny dusty cobblestone street in San MIguel de Allende, Mexico with a friend, we catch the eye of an old white haired  “madre” with long dress and apron standing in her doorway. Small smiles lead to a chorus of “buenos tardes” between us, followed by a small wave of her brown hand to come over to her doorway for introductions. We oblige her invitation and in the midst of friendly handshakes learn her name is Carmen.

After a moment of pleasantries there is a second small wave of her hand, and we find ourselves following this old darling through her small doorway entering a shady courtyard dotted with greenery and an elegance of an old world simplicity. While we stand admiring her home, there appears from across the small patio a man wearing a western hat assisted by a cane walking towards us. He reaches forward with his free hand which reveals the tremble of early Parkinson’s, yet there is pride in his stance and a grip that supersedes any physical infirmity. I feel an honest warmth through our handshake as he’s introduced by his wife as her “esposo” and him offering a “mucho gusto”. Only moments later a young woman approaches and is introduced. It is Carmen’s grown daughter, who in a few minutes will bring a small glass of coca-cola. We learn later she is one of thirteen children who were raised within the walls of this modest home.

I feel welcomed and privileged to be where I am. Only a few moments ago I was in another world. My world with all its thoughts and nuances, and now feeling blessed to be a guest of this simple hospitality! 

Introductions now complete we are invited to sit. Carmen sits upright with dignity, hands folded in her lap chatting away. I sit quietly listening to her Spanish, trying to decipher what I am hearing, and feeling a quiet sense of warmth as civility and acceptance reveal themselves. I am reminded of what life feels like when busyness and differences are placed aside.

I am grateful for this moment of kindness and the sense of gratitude we share, as I find myself wishing that the president of the most powerful and wealthy nation on this planet could sit here and take these feelings, these people, this moment away from me for himself.

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