A Case of Black and White
Although the underlying messages have similarities
(love crossing racial boundaries, courage in the face of tribal customs or racial hatred),
the video above and the story below are not the same.
On the outskirts of Waimea in the northern hills of the Big Island of Hawai'i, there is a machine which dispenses purified water for drinking. One day, as Kati and I stood in line waiting to fill our gallon bottles, we started chatting with the man behind us.
In the course of conversation, he told us how his parents and siblings lived and traveled together with another German family in the sixties.
The fathers had been friends since childhood. Now they both worked to help under-developed nations.
In one of the poorest countries of Africa, the two families came into a village where the natives are of the blackest skin. In the culture of these people, it is a long-held custom that a baby born sick may not be touched. In this way, only the strong shall live.
As it happened, a sickly baby was born the day before the families arrived. It had not been touched since it was born and was so ill its skin was ash gray.
Our story-teller's father, knowing it was forbidden, picked the baby up in his arms. He held it against his chest and felt the little body close to his heart. People watching could see by his firm stance they should not interfere. In moments, the baby’s skin turned from gray to its healthy deep ebony.
The Germans fell in love with the baby. With some persistence towards the villagers, they adopted him as their own. We were hearing the story some forty years later, and the baby is now a healthy and brilliant man.
Kati and I were entranced and forgot that we were standing in line. We sensed ‘oneness in the air’ as our surroundings became more luminous and our awareness expanded in bliss. We felt the gift of love.
On the outskirts of Waimea there is a watering hole,
where a machine dispenses water for a quarter toll.
While filling up our gallon a man with patience waited,
and we struck a conversation – by this I was elated.
For he told to us a story that still warms my heart today,
how a best friend of his parents came to his dad to say,
“We can travel all together, our families, you and I,
our love of life we’ll share, our friendship satisfy.”
They traveled as a team, an extended family,
to the villages of Africa from their home in Germany.
The culture of one village forbade a touch to give,
to infants that were sick, this way the fit shall live.
The people of this village are of the darkest skin,
and it was this scenario the families landed in.
Just the day before, a baby had been born,
so ill its skin was gray, abandoned and forlorn.
Our storyteller’s dad held the baby in his arm,
close to his beating heart and would allow no harm.
As he held him there the baby’s color changed from gray,
to black, his natural color, it was as if to say,
there’s life and healing wonder when a being loves so much,
and reaches out to give from the heart a human touch.
Patrick’s ending of this story could really be no other,
for the children of the Germans now have a black-skin brother.