Froh zu sein bedarf es wenig, Und wer froh ist, ist ein Koenig.
You have to love the German language for its ability to capture something simply but meatily (no prizes for guessing what Martin Luther spoke and wrote).
The couplet above was taught to me on my mother's knee. She would sing it in her own special way - the voice of which travels over the years in my memory.
The gist is this: it doesn't take much to make one happy, and whoever is happy - is a king!
How totally and completely true this is. How totally and completely against most of what our over-complex world this is.
Last month Sheba visited 3 widows living within shouting distance of each other. They were a study in contrasts.
All 3 are HIV positive. All have lost their husbands to HIV. All are taking Antiretroviral medications to keep the virus in check.
Mrs. Lalita is a picture of despair. She has 2 sons who are HIV positive. Two months ago she almost died from anaemia - but was saved by blood donations and transfusion at JSK. Its a hard life for Mrs. Lalita. We have offered to help her with food supplies - given by local church members but she refused saying she doesn't need them. Yet when Sheba met her Mrs. Lalita said that she had been running away her landlord. She has not paid her rent for the last 3 months, and when she saw her landlord coming she slipped away until the person left. When Sheba asked her whether she was meeting for worship as she promised, Mrs. Lalita said "I will go when the man up there gives me a job."
Mrs. Reshmi is a picture of hope. She has 4 children and used to live in a dump of a house - a filthy set of rags hanging on strings across the little room. Today she lives in the same house. She is still thin and still has 4 children who are growing up. But there is an amazing change. The home is spick and span. The children are going to school and dilligently help in the home. The oldest son has written down over a hundred songs in his diary and quickly gets it out to sing. Mrs. Reshmi worships with a simple group of Jesus followers. She has bad days too - but the changes in her life is remarkable.
Mrs. Manohar is confused and sad. She has 2 children and helps at JSK in cleaning. She is on ART and every time Sheba asks about her medication she says that she is taking them regularly. When asked for her pill chart, she says that she has it at home. Sheba visited her - and asked her to show the chart. She did. It was blank. Mrs. Manohar has not been taking the medications regularly. She cried. She has seen another local woman who is not responding to medications and she is scared. 'What will happen to me when I get to that state?' she asks. 'What will happen to my little girls?'
There are no easy answers. But it is good to remember the amazing fact of the all-knowing creator becoming small and vulnerable and being born into a home like one of these 3 ladies - broken and poor - of no consequence to the bright and the best.
Emmanuel means 'God with us.' Mrs. Reshmi has understood this well and is living it out in her own simple way. Mrs. Manohar is learning to accept and grow in it. Mrs. Lalita has tasted the benefits but continues on her own way so far.