Slippery slope


As we crossed the river and scrambled up the side of the mud slick mountain, I thought, “not too bad, we can do this.”

Then we wound our way up what seemed to be only a pig path, pushing our way through tall grass, cutting our legs on tightly packed pineapple plants, and I thought “still making it, still possible.”

Then we started slipping out every step as the wet packed clay turned steeper and more treacherous, and I stopped thinking and just tried to keep from sliding off the mountain.

After two hours of hiking, when the path got to the top of the mountain, stopped climbing, and headed down, I realized I was in trouble. All of the people with us also realized it. They couldn’t stand to see me fall over and over again, so two women came up in beside me and held onto me firmly. One held my hand in the front and showed me EVERY . SINGLE . STEP to take, and the other held my hand in the back and kept me from falling back. My hands were spread eagled between the two. I was tired, a bit shaky, my bottom and feet were covered in mud, and emptied of all pride by the time we made it down to the little gathering of people.

Everyone was embarrassed to see how muddy I was so they walked me to a small little stream and washed me off like a baby, even lifting my shirt a bit to wash the mud off my back. I stood dociley and tried to think of how to make a joke about it all, but my tired mind couldn’t think of anything funny, so I just stood dumb.

And then we went back up and sat with the lovely group of people, and I thought how can I DO anything worthwhile here if I can’t even walk or talk or wash myself.

Reminds me of this quote from a inspiring lady I just started reading about. 

“Mama, how would you like the clothes washed?”

I am taken aback by the simplicity of the question and the complexity of the implications it suggests. I would not dream to presume to know anything about washing clothes in this particular context…how much hinges on this one seemingly innocent response.

“Well, my friend,” I reply choosing my words carefully, “where I come from you take the dirty clothes, water and soap and put it in a special electric box, push a button, and the clothes get washed. But here I have no idea how to wash clothes. It would be lovely to get them clean, but I truly do not know how best to see this happen, how to wash clothes without the electric box, and I can learn from you…

I am reminded about a key principle of true sustainability and good leadership. Both are about valuing people, seeing their worth and ingenuity and releasing them to be innovative.

I am ecouraged to empower people by allowing myself to be humbled, and instead of GIVING all the answers, WORKING TOGETHER with our friends to help them find the answers


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