“They [children of the prison camp] learned to be hungry, that hunger was the natural condition of life. They learned that a meal was a big event and eggs better than gold, a piece of rotting fish was a luxury, a banana was a treasure. And that all of these articles were contraband, and only to be spoken of in whispers.”
There are a few books that always draw me back to them. Three Came Home, by Agnes Newton Keith is one of them. Written straight out of a Japanese internment camp during World War 2, it chronicles the incredible journey of a family of three surviving a three year stint in the camp. Agnes and Harry’s child George was only two when they first were placed in the camp. As I read, once again, about the extraordinary lengths that this mother went through to get food for her growing child, I was filled with appreciation for all that I have. I’ve been given so much. Raising a growing child in circumstances of starvation, brutality, and a prison like atmosphere is an almost unbearable thought. And it felt unbearable to them too, but they made it through one day at a time.
And Agnes fed her George one egg at a time as she bartered and played the “black market” for eggs and other important food items. The food in the camp wouldn’t grow a child or keep an adult alive for long, so in order to survive they would sell sheets, clothes, and other items over the back fence in the middle of the night in exchange for food. It was a dangerous game with high consequences if caught. But when your child’s well being is on the line, a mother’s love goes to extraordinary lengths. She even spent up to $20 dollars one time for a single egg! (And we thought our organic, pastured eggs were expensive!).
What an important reminder to me to be thankful.
I am very thankful that I don’t have to risk my life to get food for my child. All I have to do is put some thought and time into it. I am thankful that we’ve always had plenty to eat, even on a more limited budget. And what a good reminder to me to not complain about the high cost of food, especially good food. I am just grateful I don’t have to sell my clothes over my back fence to buy it!
It can be easy for those of us into health food to get wrapped up in talking about different healing diets, and what the best “diet” is for best health, but we also need to be reminded that we are just plain lucky to have plenty of food! A mother’s love will go to extraordinary lengths of her children, and trying to feed a child the best possible “growing up” diet she can is just one example of that love. But sometimes mothers can also forget to be grateful for what we have as we are too busy worrying and bustling about. So I was thankful for this book as it reminded me of all that I have. Poverty and starvation plague people around the world, and for them eggs may be better than gold too.
May my morning eggs be a reminder to me of all that we have and enjoy and may my prayers be filled with true thankfulness.