Our flight into Conakry arrived after dark. So, the next morning all of us woke to the morning light with great excitement to explore our new digs. When we got to the balcony, we looked over into the street behind our house and saw a group of boys playing football. They stopped their game and began waving wildly at us. When they saw that we were just as excited to see them, they took that as their cue to run around the block and stand outside our front gate. They blew kisses to WildHeart and she waved sweetly back at her adoring fans.
We continued the tour in our front yard and while speaking with a friend there, we heard someone calling us. We looked over to see that the boys were laying on the ground peeking through the open space at the bottom of the gate and extending their hands to touch us. When WildHeart and Little Aggie saw them they also lay on the ground on our side of the gate. Through that small crack, contrasting little hands and contrasting little lives greeted one another with great affection.
We see these boys in their football jerseys and plastic shoes playing football almost every day. Many times they stop their game to wave and call out to us. Sometimes, we beckon them to the gate to give them a treat. We had been warned not to give out things to groups of children here because they can get vicious and greedy and steal from each other. Not with these boys...my boys. They wait patiently for their turn and they say "merci beaucoup".
Yesterday I was returning from the market with the kids. Curly Girl and I each carried a bag full of groceries. As we turned down one street on our journey, we saw some of the boys in the distance. They saw us and ran up to us. Immediately, they took the load from our arms and escorted us the rest of the way to our house. I didn't ask them to and they didn't even expect anything in return.
They were just being gentlemen.
Gentleman...now, doesn't that title conjure up an image of some classy white guy, English perhaps, who says all the right things, uses the right fork and dresses dashingly?
None of that describes my boys. But they are gentlemen.
I think sometimes the real gentlemen among us may be the ones we hardly notice by their appearance but who rise up with acts of honor when the opportunity presents. Maybe its a small opportunity--giving up their seat when their legs are just as tired as everyone else's. Maybe its a huge one--running into a situation everyone else is running out of. Maybe it means they give up their comforts, maybe their lives...but they give it.
I know we're in a culture now that worries that exalting men is really a secret slight to women. I'm not afraid of that.
So, here's to the gentlemen tucked into every country, every color, every age, every neighborhood-we respect you, we appreciate you and we are a lovelier world because of you.