Under the Canopy of Stars (Week 9, Post 9)


After a full day’s work in rural Serere, work which can be a combination of plowing, gardening, harvesting cassava, and potatoes, pounding groundnuts, and sometimes taking the cows to graze there usually is one more thing that needs to be done aside from the necessities of eating and spending time with family and neighbors. One must take a bath.

I intentionally use the word bath and not shower because in the rural context showers do not exist. Bathing is not in a bathtub either. In fact, a shower is a luxury. Yet the best baths are the ones taken past 7 p.m. now. I need my flashlight to brighten the bushy path made by the many footsteps of those who have gone before me in this community that has hospitably received me. I need a flashlight because electricity, another luxury is not available. A typical family that has anything beyond a little solar panel gismo that helps charge their green-screen and black-font Nokia 3310 would be in the upper echelons of this society. Today and for the next 5 days will not be in the upper class. But I will find out that I am among those who are connected to something deeper through simple living.

I pat around searching for my flashlight. After knocking it down in the dark I finally have light. I strap the light on my forehead and follow the path to the water pump a few meters from my hut with my two little jerry cans. Back on the compound, after pouring my water in a bucket, my feet firmly planted on bare ground with a shanty brick structure to give me a reasonable sense of privacy, I decide to turn off the light because I am tired of the bugs and flying insects my light attracts. I certainly do not want anything on me in the dark. With my head above like a soldier peeking from the trenches, I cusp a bit of cold water over my head. As the water trickles down my face and beard, washing away the filth accumulated throughout the day, I reminisce on the enclosed bathrooms and showers I’ve used before. If only I could be back in time. I look up at the sky with hopes that the Lord is peering through the clouds ready to pat me on the back and say something to fix my discomfort. He sees me anyways. He is already probably reading my thoughts. As I lift my eyes to the heavens, behold, a multitude of stars smile upon me, each transfixed in their appointed habitats. Words are not able to capture the beauty of that which beheld me in return. Sadly, my camera didn’t comprehend it either.

Indeed, the Lord has a better light for me. In this light, I’m reminded of a hymn that calls for the appreciation of simple living. Life doesn’t consist of glamor, luxury, and convenience. I fight the idea of the dark. Yet in the dark is the brightest shining star. I am glad I turned my artificial lights off. I see his light and his light is good.