At a friend’s house, I found William Shirer’s memoir on Mahatma Gandhi. Shirer, at the age of twenty-seven, was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune and left for India in August of 1930.
He writes about his first encounter with Gandhiji:
“He greeted me warmly, with a smile that lit up his face and made his lively eyes twinkle. The welcome was so disarming, his manner so friendly and radiant, that my nervousness evaporated before I could say a word.”
“As our talk began I tried to take in not only what Gandhi was saying but how he looked. I had seen many photographs of him but I was nevertheless somewhat surprised at his actual appearance. His face at first glance did not convey at all the stature of the man, his obvious greatness. It was not one you would have especially noticed in a crowd. It struck me as not ugly, as some has said – – indeed it radiated a certain beauty – – but it was not uncommon either.”
“His large ears spread out, rabbitlike. His gray eyes lit up and sharpened when they peered at you through his steel-rimmed spectacles and then they softened when he lapsed, as he frequently did, into a mood of almost puckish humor. I was almost taken back by the gaiety in them. This was a man inwardly secure, who despite the burdens he carried, the hardships he had endured, could chuckle at man’s foibles, including his own.”
How many of us recognize and make peace with our foibles, let alone get to the stage where we can chuckle at them? (And, doing so while leading a populous nation to its freedom, in a movement and manner that was truly revolutionary)?!