There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing.


In September, 2007, Mary-Louise Parker adopted a child from an orphanage in Ethiopia.  The child’s Uncle walked a distance that Parker stated she would complain if she had to travel to in a car. The journey was made with his children, three of which were under 10. The baby was carried on his hip. This excerpt is from a letter written by Parker (“Dear Uncle“) as a tribute to him.  In their first meeting, he said: “I hope that she will be taken care of, go to school and perhaps one day be something, a doctor.”

There are so many reductive adjectives used to describe those materially less fortunate, words the privileged use to anoint them. Words like proud, or graceful…It never rings true. Having seen what I saw when you brought me to the hut where my daughter was born, and introduced me to the people in your village, I felt like I was hovering over every judgment of my reality and yours, unable to land. None of the families I met were intact, everyone had lost children, parents, or a spouse. There was not enough of anything for anyone. The only bounty was in categories of suffering or possible ways to die. I didn’t feel them looking at me with distance, they all smiled and shook my hand.

I hid my embarrassment at how stupid I felt when I entered your hut and was alarmed by the darkness that swallowed me despite it being late morning. Of course I knew there was no electricity, no light would be there except for what might creep in through that ceiling of straw. I knew it, but I couldn’t fathom it until I stood inside with you and stared at an actual nothingness and my eyes adjusted to near black. There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing. As you pointed at different parts of the hut that were designated for the cows to sleep, or the spot where your family of twelve eats when there is food, or where you slept, I saw spots with absolutely nothing in them. There was an absence of comment on your situation that made you seem twenty feet tall. It’s something I could never know if I hadn’t stood there, with you showing me what life is like on another planet where there is no complaining, or showing disappointment.

You were kind. I don’t want to quantify or describe it to anyone who won’t see how far you walk or what you have to eat or where you go to pray. It feels vulgar to be more explicit about what you face. I saw your life, less than lucky in every obvious respect, but blessed in ways I’m not built to understand. I don’t think you would appreciate being characterized as anything other than a man who loves God and tries to be good. I think I know what actual divinity is because you handed it to me when I said I hoped I would come back and you would meet my son, and you said

You must, because we are all a family now

I hit a new threshold of speechlessness when you gave me the most tremendous gift I’ve ever received and then thanked me. What can you say to that, there is no saying, “Oh no, thank you.” There’s nothing but commonality. Just humility and being keenly aware that I will never live up to that gift, but will wake up every morning and try ferociously to meet it and marvel at it.

~ Mary-Louise Parker, ‘Dear Uncle’ from Dear Mr. You



  1. One of the better messages out there today of all days David. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beautiful on all sides.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have much to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you. It feels good to know not all of our species is on the materialism merry-go-round.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “There was an absence of comment on your situation that made you seem twenty feet tall. It’s something I could never know if I hadn’t stood there, with you showing me what life is like on another planet where there is no complaining, or showing disappointment.” Absolutely true this is. Such a beautiful post, David, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful and truthful in the purest sense. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tears…& more tears. Happy Thanksgiving – with full gratitude and heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Steve Reiff says:

    thanks for all the posts that hit your soul and make you realize aspects of your life that you don’t , but should have front and center. wish you well always Dave

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barneysday says:

    A perfect message for today.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barneysday says:

    Reblogged this on Views from the Hill and commented:
    Today of all days, the perfect message of sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a beautiful message. Thanks for sharing this today of all days.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Peggy Farrell says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Dave and thanks for this post. What a perfect reminder of how fortunate we are.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rings true. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can’t imagine the dynamics of giving a child up to adoption. I know there will always be a lot of love threaded through something like that. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A beautiful reflection of what “Thanksgiving and gratitude means” We have so much in our world, but this story reminds us what true abundance is. Happy Thanksgiving Mr Kanigan.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m so grateful for you, David. You keep bringing beauty, and meaningfulness, and humanity to us here. You help me be proud of being a human being.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Many thoughts come up for me reading this. One is that Mary Louise Parker must be an amazing human being. Another, as I watch (judgmentally) tv footage of throngs of people rushing into stores and fighting (!) I realize how easy it is for me to succumb to using reductive adjectives to describe, well, anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Back at home with a healthy Internet connection (for which I am most grateful) and humbled by this post and so much more. My 11-year-old niece set her alarm for 3:15 a.m. This morning to get up and see us off. I don’t know who was crying harder. Family….good, bad, otherwise, blood or choice, it’s so very important…. And you have become extended family by choice, pal. So very grateful for you, too….

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Incredibly moving!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. One truly understands how precious life is when one, in the face of adversity, can still manage a smile that emanates from the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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