Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blessed Moment of Competence

Detail of Sandro Botticelli's "Madonna of the Pomegranate" (circa 1487)

It's been a year and a half and I still have days when I speak like a 3-year old, make the mistakes of a stranger, and have to ask how to do the simplest of things. But sometimes I do things right. And, rare as it is, sometimes I do things spectacularly well. Two weeks ago I went to Tahoua, and came back with a pomegranate. I gave the pomegranate to Narba. At that moment, I was called away-- a crying child, a passing camel, someone at my door-- I don't recall what it was that interrupted the pomegranate exchange. But later that night, after the last prayer call, Narba came over to ask me a question. "What is this thing, and can we eat it?" Aha- I immediately swelled with the knowledge that I alone possessed the information and experience needed to share a pomegranate. I joined her, eight of her grandkids, and two of her grown children on the mat in her courtyard, and proceeded to deftly and gracefully open the beautiful fruit. My audience was overcome.
Thank you very much, blessed moment of competence, for saving my self confidence.


slim pickins said...

Ah, the sharing of food. I invariably make a mess of the awesome pomegranate - you'll have to show me your graceful technique...

Pop said...

I can't help but share a damned moment of incompetence, also involving food. Kerry and I were on a trip to the far Northwest of Afghanistan. We were traveling in a Russian Waz (a pickup-like truck) with a dozen Afghan men through a very dry, barren landscape of sand dunes. We stopped for a break, and some men produced a beautiful watermelon, honoring me by asking me to cut it open. I cut into it with a large knife and, to my horror, watched half of it break away out of my control, and land face down in the sand, thereby ruining the precious treat and my reputation among these strangers. I'm so glad you fared better with the pomegranate!