I don’t know how many of you have ever travelled. It’s a strange experience when you’re in an entirely foreign country with an unfamiliar culture and people who speak a different language. Yet there’s always something to share. One of my fondest memories was when I was in Ethiopia hitching down to Kenya. It was night and there weren’t any cars, only a man walking in the same direction along the road. He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t even know what the local language was, but he was obviously concerned about me. In sign language he asked me where I was going, how I was getting there and where was I going to spend the night? I pointed out a flat piece of ground and that I had a sleeping bag, so there was no problem; but he obviously thought that would be very dangerous and indicated for me to follow him.
He took me to where his wife and two young children lived, in a circular mound of earth with a grass roof; it was my first experience of such a home. Inside there was one bed, and in the middle there were a few sticks of wood, not even a fireplace or stove. Then I saw the man take a little cloth purse from which he gave a coin or two to his small son, who went running off and came back with a little package of tea and a bit of bread for the guest. It was extremely touching; there was I, a complete stranger, and yet he offered part of the family treasure so that I should have something reasonable to eat. That night, the family wouldn’t sleep on their bed, it was for the guest; and the next morning, when the man took me back to the road, he didn’t ask for anything in return.
This reflection by Ajahn Santacitto is from Peace and Kindness.