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  • Quiara

The Privileged Stranger

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

black and white person shaking hands the privileged stranger by quiara pinchina

How can I bear it?

To give her a ride –

this lady who raised her


and controls them still

with just a look

and a disgruntled, “Oh.”

She will never learn

to drive a car.

How can I give her a ride

again –

and hear

“God bless you

Sister Eliezer.

May He give you a boy

for your first child.”

She acts like

I solved her problems

for the day.

But she has many

I cannot solve.

How can I bear it?

How can I bear it?

This madanm

the hushed conversation

on the porch –

My husband listens.

He pays them a visit

just to listen

yet again.

He’s gone for hours

and comes back

shaking his head.

“These problems they’re having –

they can only be solved

by a little more money

and a little more space.”

We are only two

in our yellow mansion.

We are eating

three meals a day

instead of one.

How can I bear it?

How can I bear it?

The police checkpoint

in the blazing sun.

The officer says:

“I haven’t taken anything

yet today.”

He probably really is


Ahead of us

waits Sunday dinner

prepared by friends.

But we have no money.

A fist bump.

A “maybe on the way back.”

But -

I pray he’s gone

when we return

because –

How can I bear it?

How can I bear it?

The bag of “provisions”

she slips me

yet again.

How can I take these

when I’m feeding two

and she has


Another gift

for ME?

And then

in the half-darkness

of that little yard

he smiles at me

and says “I can’t understand it.

But I love you a lot!”

All I can say is –

“I love you more!”


what have I ever done

to deserve it all?

And how can I bear it?

How can I bear it?

To hear them say

even one more time -

“God bless you

Sister Eliezer!

What you did

was big to us!”

When I do something

so small

for people who

carry burdens

I can’t even understand.


their hospitality

their generosity

overwhelms me.


I am the privileged one.

And -

How can I bear it?

To do so little

when they need



Should I even post this? I'm not sure. I hope it doesn't cross the line of respecting others' privacy. I love this congregation - sometimes my heart can hardly hold what I feel. It's incredibly hard to learn their stories and be able to do nothing. Many times I flip-flop from struggling with my own doubts and fears about the future - then squirming with shame when I'm hit yet again with the reality that we have so much compared to the many who are carrying bigger burdens. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the people here and how they have truly "welcomed the stranger" and shown me love and generosity even though I have so little to give in return.

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