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By Sheryl Scott

The conversation turned to houses. How big, how small, how cramped, how dirty was your house?

She said she didn't have a dishwasher. And one bathroom for five people. Her three children shared a bedroom — two of which were teenagers of the opposite sex.

"How do you do it?" I wondered aloud.

"Do what?" she asked, as she smiled her beautiful smile.

"Don't you feel cramped and crowded?"

"Oh no. We have so much. Where I am from, the living space is one room only. Sometimes two or three families share the room. We have a small cookstove. No indoor plumbing."

She is from a third-world country. Everything she is saying is so foreign to me.

"The toilet is outside," she continues, "well, the hole in the ground that serves as a toilet."

"What do you do for water?" I hope my mouth isn't hanging wide open.

"You left buckets out in the rain, to collect the rain water. Then used it sparingly." She smiles. I'm sure it's at the look on my face.

My friend is describing her life before moving here. She was able to move when she met a Canadian man, fell in love, married and came to this country.

"How awful." I murmur.

She looks at me.

"I never thought so," she says softly. "I never looked at my life and believed it was awful. I had all I needed. Some food, a place to sleep and best of all, family to share my life with. I never wished I had a dishwasher or new sheets or a beautiful hardwood floor. I didn't need those things." She shrugged.

"But aren't they nice?" I ask. "I mean, now that you've seen them?"

"Sure," she says."They are nice, but they are what makes me feel cramped."

"What do you mean?" I am truly baffled.

"They crowd out what we need. Each other. They get in the way of what's important. Serving your brother. Sitting with your sister."

I look down. She touches my hand. I look up at her. My eyes longing to drink in what she's saying. My heart feels funny.

I remember how whiny I got the other day because my couch looked "old." I was sitting with my husband. We were about watch a movie, until it turned into a fight over getting new furniture. The night got ruined. I felt robbed. Robbed by an old couch.

"I definitely prefer the indoor plumbing though," she laughed.

She was right. There was nothing wrong with these things. But…

I smile. I nod.

"Thank you," I say, as sincerely as I have ever spoken, "For serving me today. For sitting with me. For teaching me, what's important."

She doesn't answer right away. Just looks at me and smiles. Wisdom wears all sorts of faces.

"You're welcome." she says, "Now, want to help me do the dishes?"