Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wisdom from a "khitiyara"

Um Tulip writes:

Last week I took Oliver to a birthday party for one of his KG classmates. It was a lovely day, a little tiring with loud music at Burger King, but overall delightful. Oliver had a blast, and I had great conversation with the birthday boy's grandmother. After a bit of chit chat, the conversation turned to age. Local women often think I'm younger than I am, but she was pretty close. However, I was way off in guessing her age. She looked to be at most 55. She was lively, thoughtful, and by her pepper-gray hair I just assumed she had married earlier and that was why she had grown grandchildren. She laughed at my guess and told me she was 71. Only as we went down the stairs of the restaurant did I notice her weak knees and that she needed a little assistance with so many steps. She said to me while descending the stairs, "now you can see that I'm a khitiyara!" with a twinkle in her eye. Khitiyara loosely translates as "old woman".

We then went to the birthday boy's home for coffee and more play time for the kids. We resumed our conversation and I learned about her six children, and how successful they've all become. Her husband was a teacher in a small village near Um Qais, and one son scored 11th in the country in tawjihi (exams during the final year of high school-very big deal!). She spoke fondly of all her children and dearly loves her grandchildren. I still vividly remember a sermon from our college chaplain that discussed aging and its effects. He commented that as people age, the distinct features of a person become more prominent. A person who holds on to bitterness in life often ends his life as a bitter, old man. For a person who showed grace throughout her life this quality of grace seems to abound as she ages. I saw such joy and gratitude in this lady, so I posed a question. I asked her, "as a young mom, I'm still learning how to raise my children. What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to raising a family?"

She thought a moment and responded, "you need to teach them the fear of God." She mentioned that her children learned to fear God and understand right from wrong. Then she added, "you need to realize who you are in front of God. I don't boast about my children because of my accomplishments, but I give thanks to God because he has given me the privilege to raise them."

Thank you, God, for the lesson I learned that day!

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

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