June 9, 2014
An Epiphany in Morocco
[It was 1973. I had somehow passed the California Bar and had taken off for a round the world trip (though I had no idea of my itinerary). The trip was to last almost a year and a half. Europe was too cold in February, so I took the ferry from Spain to Morocco and spent a month acclimating to a world still steeped in the middle ages.]
The trip through the Atlas Mountains to Marakesh was a frigid night time bus ride through winding mountain roads and heavy snowfall. Normally I took a bus driver’s eccentricities calmly or at least suppressed my panic. But watching the white faced, cringing fellow passengers scream at the bus driver did little to assuage any fears. That we made it thorugh is a matter of fate and not probability.
Carpets, dresses, smoking paraphernalia, and more in the myriad shops in the narrow streets of the Medina. You could stop at shops where men worked at hand sewing garments or spinning stone wheels to sharpen knives. So many of the things sold on the market seemed to be made nearby. And you could visit the workshops and haggle with the proprietor about price over a glass of tea..
One night I sat in a outdoor café, and watched the evening traffic of pedestrians ebb as the moon grew full. I noticed a young boy I had observed earlier in the day begging for alms. He had no legs, and sat on a crude platform with wheels, begging. He was a pitiful sight. Tonight he was playing tag with his friends, laughing and scampering about he marketplace on his wheeled chariot.
It occurs to me that here was a lesson about community there worth remembering. What we take as unacceptable, pitiful, and needing to be hidden from sight in our culture, could be an acceptable part of a vibrant community elsewhere. Even tragic circumstances can be endured and surmounted if your community accepts you as one of their own