It is not hard to see that complaining comes easy for others as well as myself. If there is a correlation between the level of lament and the amount of pain in someone’s life, life likes to remind me that it is usual inverse. The less to the extreme that exists, the louder the complaining is.
Yesterday, as I finished my meal, I was unknowingly looking sad and annoyed. My usual fruit juice hawker stand was closed. Mama-san, owner of the food stall where I had just eaten, asked me if I was ok. My whine was met with a smile and a simple, “today, the sugarcane juice is very good.” She pointed me to the stall less than 35 feet away.
I knew I was being ridiculous. I knew that even in the scheme of my life that this lament was not worth a sigh. Mumbling, I headed towards the stand.
The fresh cane was washed, cut, and lightly peeled. Looking at it triggered memories when I stood next to a street vendor as a kid in India, haggling over the price of a glass of juice. I could still remember the taste, wondering if it was the same.
The shopkeeper emerged, asking if I wanted a glass. As I answered, he turned and I could see all. All is defined as a whole man minus the right arm and hand just below the elbow. His smile and demeanor caught me off-guard. There was no sign of lament. The twinkle in his eyes, calm way he went about everything, including folding a plastic bag, was a slap. When he smiled, I felt foolish.
The one bit of good news was that I had not complained in front of him. He did not know! Just moments before I had been acting out an old lament; “My life leaks away, groan by groan; my years fade out in sighs. My troubles have worn me out, turned my bones to powder.” (Psalm 31.10) Now I stood embarrassed.
The happy, contented with life shopkeeper offered me a wonderful juice.