Days 365+78 typical walking hike w guides croppedI recently returned from a trip to visit our daughter in Nairobi, Kenya. International travel like this always prompts reflections on life and how we humans are alike and different, I’d like to share 2 things I learned – one humorous and one humbling.

Our daughter, Jim, and I went on a walking safari through the savannah region north of Nairobi. We had two Massai as guides (a spotter, aka the “gun guy” and an “explainer”). We saw dik diks, zebra, geremuks, giraffes, jackals, elephants, ostriches, impalas, waterbucks, and other exotic animals and birds.

Elephant track

elephant track

I was in awe of the guides’ ability to spot animals from afar that often just looked like rocks to me – until they moved. The explainer would often point out the tracks of the various animals and background about their habits. Eventually, I wanted to contribute to our group’s knowledge but was pitifully ignorant of tracks, until…I saw the tire track of a truck. Click on images to enlarge.

tire track

tire track

In the style of the guide, I explained that this track was probably made by a Toyota jeep.  It eats gas and oil and comes in many colors, but mostly black, white, and earth tones. Its “poop” comes in the form of smoke and fumes. Its predators are bumpy roads, bigger trucks, and drunk drivers. Did it impress the guides? No, but we had a chuckle and I had fun thinking up parallels.

Days 365+78 elephants in river croppedPeriodically I took time to quietly sit, reflect, and pray about the experience I was having in Africa – both the safari and life in the city of Nairobi. My custom is to end my meditation time with calling to mind something I am grateful for. (It helps balance out my worries and stress.) One morning, as I was aware of the safari staff busily preparing food and supplies for the days walk, while I leisurely gazed at the sunrise, I found myself saying, “Thank you, God, that I do not have the life of a safari worker, a maid, a guard, a driver, or any of the many local people who spend their time serving us.” OH, NO! I caught myself in the middle of this “Gratitude Prayer” and realized how close it was to Luke 18:11 “The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” I didn’t know what to do with this awareness of myself as a proud Pharisee. I felt humbled and resolved to do some kind of service for the staff that day.

Points to Ponder:

  • Does humor come easily to you?
  • How do you deal with undue pride?
  • What has contact with another culture (either at home or in another country) taught you about life?

Days 365+78 Pig paraphalia croppedExtra – Speaking of Animals:
I’ve been saving this post for awhile since it didn’t really fit any category other than Getting rid of stuff that’s been stored at our house for way too long. Jim and I belong to a contradance community that hosts an annual weekend dance called “Pig Town Fling” in honor of Cincinnati’s slogan as “Pig Town.” Over the years we’ve collected a lot of pig paraphernalia with which we decorate the dance hall. Finally, I’ve passed these “treasures” on to next year’s King Pig organizer.