Life is a treasure. Life is a mystery. Life is long. life is short.
I am realizing that to live, really, truly, LIVE is the essence of life. So simple, yet somehow the logic of this world, the wisdom of prudence, false responsibility, and commitment to our own personal advancement and place in the world can stop the flow of life, leaving it as a drizzling, stagnant mud puddle rather than the rushing, roaring rivers of the Nile.
Oh, to lose the sweet love of life and gain the world…a tragedy of tragedies. To lose my soul- worse off, to exchange richness of spirit for worldly success, is something that I cannot bear.
I sit in a mosquito net hovel, writing with my headlamp, somewhere in Uganda. What I am learning is that life is not really about geography; it is a strange blend of becoming, where past melts into present which invokes future. Where I am is merely the pages of the story, but the essence of it, the ink, comes from the inside and dances upon the empty pages, filling it with meaning.
Life is both the longest thing we will ever do, and simultaneously, a fleeting shimmer in a timeless galaxy, a vestibule for eternity, a moment which passes in the blink of an eye. How do I want to live? How do I live? Give it all away. I want to lose my life; to lose any self-conscious, restrained caution and jump fully and completely into the freedom of finding it.
We all pay a price to live according to a certain reality; to accept certain rules of being, laws of gravity, and codes of conduct… I’ve been told that I think too big- imagine too much- that I am too heavenly minded, and no earthly good. And, for a time, I think that I began to stifle this, allowing the end of my journey to justify the means, even if this meant that I was not being the truest version of me. The sad thing was, I thought that I was-and it was not until I realized that the truest part of me is quietly handcuffed in the corner while the false self, the practical, reasonable, and boring me, is miserably getting things done.
What if the whole reason that we are born is not to do something,but to become someone? And, what if, that person that we are to become is not someone random, someone that we create and design, but is a dream that has existed in the mind and heart of the Master Artist since a timeless era? And, what if the key to that becoming was to let go totally and completely of who you think you are, an old, un-renewed version, and step into that dream? Something, Someone, has forever altered reality by ripping through the cosmos and destroying death. What He did forever changed the deck. It is always available. Just say Yes.
Paradox upon paradox.
I am here. The journey has taken a new turn and I have landed in a new land; in every way. It is a paradox, because despite the external differences in most elements of this new geography, there is a sense of deep recognition that I am starting to feel. The best way that I can describe it is this; I feel as if I have been corresponding with a friend in a faraway place for a long time, without having met them in person, and now being here, I feel as if I am face to face.
I landed in Entebbe Airport two weeks ago today, after a two day journey from Eastern Canada, passing through Toronto, London, and Cairo. It is a journey, this is a theme that has long been repeated of late; journey. I am here in Kampala, Uganda to be a part of somethings great- relationship, learning, and serving. About a year ago I was reading a worn, ragged copy of a book called The City of Joy, something I snagged from my dad’s bookshelf. From the first moment that I opened the page, I began to see dreams of mine spilled onto the yellowed pages- yet not yet lived. For as long as I can remember, the desire to leave my own familiarity and venture into the life lived by 80% of the world has been mine. By the way, just because we hang our maps with North America on the top doesn’t mean its necessarily true- the world is stretched across a globe- global citizenship? I am looking for an inside out upside down kingdom where the first are last and the last are first. Does this kind of a geography exist anywhere? Can it be formed in me- to become a living geography of another reality-
The kingdom of heaven is like something buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.
I am here- Uganda- the pearl of Africa.
I am looking for an even greater pearl, hidden, buried, precious.
I woke up this morning to loud raindrops pounding on the ceramic roof, and had no idea what the day would hold. Getting ready, leaving, driving through the red roofed red road-ed streets of Kampala on my way to Mulago Hospital, I was mainly thinking about myself- thinking about life from my own perspective, my own cares, my own dilemnas.
Arriving at the hospital, I saw people lined up out the doors waiting to be cared for. Mothers and their babies, friends, everyone there for a different reason. We walked and walked through hallways, annexes, buildings, for what seemed to be forever, until, after asking many times for directions, we found ourselves, muddied and somewhat soggy, at the right place. We were in for a very special day!
Mulago is the central hospital in Kampala, as well as being the headquarters for TASO, the organization with whom we are working. Today, we were to go to visit families in the surrounding villages who have created many forms of sustainable livelihoods. We drove for some time, slowly leaving behind the business of the city, the boda bodas, street vendors, traffic, and bustle of people. The green started to get greener, the mist from the day’s rain coating the air with wonder.
Many things to say, many things to see, but the one very special experience was arriving at a family’s home and farm and seeing fields of mangoes, papayas, avocados, and coffee plants. Eating fresh mangoes that have just fallen off of the tree by cutting them open with a machete. Meeting my neighbor who is from an entirely different experience and generation, speaks another language, wears different clothes, and yet; loves mangoes just like me.
I am re-discovering and re-thinking what it means to live in a world that has been divided by borders and national lines; moments like that, with a community under a mango tree-next to a coffee plant-down the lane from the papaya tree-next to the avocado tree-in the hills of rural Uganda, brings together people from generations, nations, and obligations so diverse yet so common to us all.
I guess the moral of the story could be that mangoes unite us all, or…
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Greetings from Kanyanya. It has now been over a week since I arrived here in Uganda, and it feels as if I have gone from being in a black and white, still-frame movie to a color motion picture. Everything is alive. The green is greener, as one friend told me it would be. The roads are red, bustling with people moving around the landscapes of their lives. The birds are chromatic and diverse; bright blue hummingbirds, shining yellow birds, and enormous terradactyl like creatures dot the clear aired sky. Languages and cultures are also chromatic, which is the theme of this post. Yesterday, I was sardined in the back of a landrover with about 8 other people from the surrounding nations- Kenya, Tanzania, and of course, Uganda. Among us, there were more than eight languages spoken and likely as many cultural heritages, though me and my colleague were the only ones coming from a faraway land. The stories are rich and complex, layered and dynamic, yet parallel to the stories of anyone. Anywhere.
Being here is an incredible privilige- I am one of four students from UBC who are participating in a short term internship (4mths) with an local organization here in Uganda called TASO. In the big picture, four months is such a short time, thus, I am happy that this internship is co-designed by TASO and UBC to be the first four month stage in a period of three years, where following students will build on the work that we do this summer in a continuous flow. It is a unique opportunity to lend our time, skills, and enthusiasm to come alongside of people who are doing amazing work in their country, who serve with excellence, and who have been leaders in change in Uganda and beyond. This indigenous and grassroots organization was founded over 25 years ago by 16 Ugandans who saw a need, and gave their lives to create change. To be able to learn from and serve them is a great joy.
Initially, I was unsure about coming to a nation not my own simply to learn; worried about being an inconvenience, about imposing my own perspective, making cultural blunders… For the first few days, I did feel very awkward, and was not sure how to fit in. I felt awkward about coming- struggled to find words to describe, justify my presence here. What I am learning, is that to be caught in a tension which may feel uncomfortable, is not a bad thing. I am here to learn. I am here to serve. I am not here to change the world, change a nation, or “help”, as so many people may think. As I continue to learn about the work that TASO does in Uganda, I am so humbled to have the opportunity to meet the pioneers of change, and to come alongside of them as they bring change to their nation. I think that that is the best position to take, and to take slowly. This organization has stood the test of time, and I am convinced that it is because of the reason for which it began; love. This love transcends borders, languages, cultures, and histories, and creates a common story of which we can all be a part; a new story that is being written every moment of every day, in every language, tone, and color. It overcomes and re-writes old stories. This story is not of one color or geography alone; it is simultaneously unified and chromatic as the flock of beautifully colored birds that flies overhead, peeks through the windows and inhabits the trees.