Today as I drove through the streets at Cotonou, past threadbare shacks and awnings loosely built with sticks and plastic bags, I marveled at how universal human nature is.
Each "house" was filled with playful barefoot children and women wrapped in colorful lappas. Some of the women were cooking in thick metal pots of over fires in the midday heat while others were patiently platting their neighbors hair. A collection of men in non-uniform yellow shirts, which signify them as "official" taxi drivers, stood next to their motorbikes waiting for their next customer.
Life is simpler here. Poverty eliminates the conveniences and complications of the western world from daily living. A part of me is a little jealous.
Obviously, I'm not jealous of anyone's poverty. I realize I've lived a privileged and blessed life. I am thankful for clean water, modern medicine, and the myriad of other things I've daily enjoyed in my American life. But nothing about those things are "it". "It" is much more elusive.
The developed world provides a million distractions to finding "it", even to the point of denying that we are longing for something intangible. This desire is buried under a massive web of complexity, activity, and communication. But it's the same struggle you'll find on the streets of Cotonou. Humanity is universal. Here, there is just less to distract.
The meat of life really is quite simple. We laugh and cry and sing. We have fears and desires and hopes and dreams. We all have the desire to love and be loved. No one likes loneliness or rejection. We all live with the dissatisfaction of earth. We yearn to know and see God in the giant and most minuscule things-even when we don't realize it.
It's important to remember, it the middle of it all, joy can be found. And we are responsible for seeking it. For joy has but one Source.
A few photos I took today of universal parts of our humanity.