I regularly, including today, get letters and emails addressed to me c/o various people and places, and others addressed to others c/o myself. The most recent instance brought to mind an excerpt from the "No.1 Ladies Detective Agency" book I am reading... "The Miracle at Speedy Motors". The context is that Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotse's assistant is objecting to the address of their detective agency being "c/o Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors", and what follows is Mma Ramotswe's thoughts on the issue. (If you don't know what I am talking about, do yourself a huge favour and go read Alexander McCall Smith's deceptively easy-reading series... it may well be a fantasy but a helpful one...)
"Mma Ramotswe saw nothing undignified in being in the care of anybody. In fact, she thought it was rather reassuring to be in another’s care and, more than that, it was a very convenient way of describing how to find somebody, a way which we used in our everyday lives when talking about those we knew. There were people who were always to be found in the company of one particular friend, and to say, ‘Oh, you’ll always find him walking around with that other man, you know, the one who lives next to the store,’ was surely the same as saying that one was care of the other. Yes, we were all care of one another in the final analysis, at least in Botswana, where people looked for and valued those invisible links that connected people, that made for belonging. We were all cousins, even if remote ones, of somebody; we were all friends of friends, joined together by bonds that you might never see, but that were there, sometimes every bit as strong as hoops of steel.
But, Mma Ramotswe thought that morning as she drank her first cup of red bush tea during her walk about her garden, perhaps this did not apply to everybody; perhaps there were some who were lonely in the middle of all this profusion of friends and relatives, who had lost their people."
I don't know whether this truly reflects how things are in Botswana where these books are set... I do know and see evidence every day of how the natural networks of care and support are breaking down where I live and work. Personally I have huge cause to be grateful for a network of care and compassion that stretches across the globe, and would want that for everyone.
Paul tells the church in Galatia:
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (RSV)
Or in the words of Brother Jones "What Good am I?" (ps you're likely to hear a lot more about this album from me over the next wee while...)