Joseph G. Healey, a Maryknoll priest, has worked in Kenya and Tanzania for many years. His books include Towards an African Narrative Theology. In this enchanting collection of stories, poems, prayers, proverbs, and true happenings from mission experience in Africa, the reader will find material on creation, life, family, community, good times and bad times, joy and celebration, cultural matters, and seeds of God in African soil. Healey has deep respect for the spiritual tradition that gives meaning to suffering and pain, the importance of ancestors, and the person's responsibilities to the community. He admires how African people punctuate their lives with song and dance and never segregate death from the concerns of the living.
Here is a popular story, collected by Ted Hayden, which illustrates that animals are not just creatures in the bush; they can be our teachers.
"Every morning in Africa, when a gazelle wakes up it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
"Every morning in Africa, when a lion wakes up it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
"It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
Service is a major factor in Christianity. The following true story from Father Gerry Nolf, conveys this truth:
"Zacharias, an elderly African catechist, was laid to rest after a long life of serving his church and the people of Kenya. Afterwards, as I was walking back with another catechist, she remarked, 'We'll miss him. He went ki-sabuni' (Swahili for 'like a bar of soap')
"Confused, I asked, 'like a bar of what?'
"She repeated, 'Ki-sabuni. You know. In the house the bar of soap sits next to the basin, available morning, noon, and night to all children, adults, the elderly, family, and guests alike. It never discriminates or complains of being used and reused. It is taken for granted as it slowly disappears, until someone exlaims, "Gosh, the soap is gone!" Zacharias was that kind of man. I'm sure the God he served so well will grant him eternal rest.' "
The stories, parables, and proverbs in this paperback are all of the same high quality as these. Healey has done us all a service by retrieving these gems and putting them together in one collection.