Humbled by those who have less, much less.

Although it has been 20+ years since I
finished high school, The English poetry I learnt, still resonates
with me and I can recall phrases and lines to this day. William
Wordsworth wrote a sonnet that I shall reproduce here, since it is,
of course, only 14 lines.

The world is too much with us; late
and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little
we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a
sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The
winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now
like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of
tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan
suckled in a creed outworn; (1)
So might I, standing
on this pleasant
lea, (2)
Have glimpses that would
make me less forlorn;
Have sight of
Proteus (3)
rising from the sea;
Or hear old
Triton (4) blow his
wreathed horn.

(1)
Brought up in an outdated religion.

(2)
Meadow.

(3)
Greek sea god capable of taking many shapes.

(4)
Another sea god, often depicted as trumpeting on a shell.

For two years our family was very
fortunate to have the services of a live-in nanny who began her
employment with us a year after our son was born. A rather simple woman,
almost illiterate, and not conversant in English, I recall that when
our daughter started grade one and began to learn reading and
writing, our nanny used some of her free time to study English
reading and writing as well. I remarked to myself that a 60 and 6
year old were learning to read and write English for the first time.
Our nanny grew very fond of our younger son and loved him as if he were the
son she could not bear (her husband divorced her in their youth as they
were unable to conceive). Upon recent a visit to her home country, she
phoned us with the most unfortunate news that she was not returning to
America as she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

With no dependents of her own, our nanny worked to
save for her and her sisters’ retirement. Her sole possessions
accompanied her in one suitcase when she went home a few weeks ago. Thus when she called to inform us of her
condition, we offered to send her few remaining possessions to her
but she refused and suggested we give them away.

As I cleaned her
room I found notes she had taken in her English language classes. In
the notebook, among other sentences, was written:

“I love children.”

“I love to cook
for the children.”

I was moved to
tears. Here we live in one of the most
sought after areas
in the world. Our children attend magnificent
schools and not deprived of toys nor clothing nor extra-curricular activities. And a
woman who at age 60 is learning English for the first time, writes of her love for children that she could not bear herself. Those of us
consumed by the rat-race and materialism that American consumerism
thrusts upon us, as
Wordsworth wrote, should stop and smell the flowers…..

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