Diamond in the Rough

Moments pass, inconspicuously turning into hours, days, weeks, and years, and suddenly, I am an adult who is alive and active in the world.  I find myself wondering, who am I, and who am I becoming?  I also notice the parallels between the thoughts that I think, the words that I speak, the attitudes that I embrace, and the person that I am becoming.  Inconspicuous.  Like small grains of sand that merge together to create a structure, so the seemingly unimportant aspects of our lives collaborate to shape who we are. 

One of the things I am learning here in Uganda is that we are always on the brink of something; be it laughter, disaster, rainshowers, or beauty, there is always an option of what we can lean into.  I find that am also on the brink of something; of stepping more fully into who I am created to be in this world, discovering the sound that I am created to utter (well said blossoming pebble!).  As I reflect about this, I am wondering how it happens- is there a moment when one just does something that forever changes the course of their lives?  The organization that I am here working with, TASO, was founded inconspicuously in response the the needs of the people around them.  I start to wonder; what would happen if I were to respond to the needs of the people around me; to step out and into solutions that make a difference?  This is where the gospel is starting to feel very concrete-

What would happen if one of those moments, those seemingly unimportant moments of a normal day becomes the gateway to the extraordinary?

I have never wanted to live an ordinary life, and still, I can’t quite imagine what that would look like for me-  yet, I am realizing that there is a very real threshold to step over to enter into that extraordinary, and it is hidden in and among the very mundane things of life.

 

 

 

 

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The road less traveled.

We are all going somewhere with our lives, and we all pay a price to travel along a certain path.

Some will pay that price earlier on, and choose to take a road less traveled.

Some will follow a crowd, and not realize that the price that they pay is much greater, for it collects interest along the way, and is paid at the end, when they realize that there was a treasure, hidden, buried, and invisible to the naked eye along the path that seemed too difficult and too un-populated..

Just saying….

Ahead lies the road.

Zhetoun

I know only a few words of Arabic; one of them is olive. 

I think that the coolest thing about today was not driving through the country side, although that was beautiful.  It was not eating an avocado for breakfast.  It was not seeing the back of a petrol truck which said “Fry Emirates” (Instead of Fly Emirates).  These were all very amazing, but the best thing about today was getting to know three colleagues from Sudan, and discovering that despite the space between our lives, we are just the same!

It was standing under an avocado tree with a book over my head as we dodged falling avocados.  It was running through the banana field with Naema in search of distant manga trees. (Manga, not mango) It was laughing at myself as I blindly repeated words in Arabic from the mouths of my new friends from Sudan, realizing that I had absolutely no idea what I was repeating, and then watching them laugh with me.  The best part about today was engaging with people who come from a land whose only story I’ve heard is one of war, and meeting three people of peace, of laughter, and of kindness.

The best part about today was being alive.

 

Outside the gates

Outside the gates, life was happening.  It was a vibrant cacophony of noise, color, and activity.  Potholed dirt roads leading in many different directions, small chapatti shops, fresh milk, God’s Mercy Grocery (literally, that is the name)… I took the same path I had taken earlier that afternoon and walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, relieved at the fresh air and sunshine.  The people I passed greeted me, some calling out Mzungu.  After walking as far as I could go, I came back to the same place that I started, and found a little kid staring at me.   I smiled back at him, crouching down on my knees.  He stared at me, trying to communicate something, but not finding the words.  He was so cute- huge black eyes and shaved head, a bright blue shirt.  The chapatti man behind us said, “He wants to communicate something with you, but he doesn’t know how to talk!” He spoke to the child in the local language.  The child then turned to me, and his communication was to run towards me full tilt and give me a huge hug. I was so touched and happy, I just hugged him back.  He took my hand and, and led me towards a newly formed group of kids.

As I sat there with them for the next few hours, I think the entire village walked by, their hospitality to a foreigner undiminished by the randomness of my being there.  They just waved, saying Agandi (hello) in reply to my own greeting. Some, (many), laughed when I spoke, kind of snickering at this mzungu hanging out in office clothes next to a bunch of kids.  The girls started playing hand-clapping games, and I tried to play, but obviously did not know the song.  A group of older girls appeared, and started to teach me.  They laughed and laughed (at me I think) and I laughed with them, transported into the moment.  I think it was a spectacle, but I was past the point of really caring, and decided to embrace it.

It is so easy to watch something from the outside, and form an opinion without gaining an understanding of what is actually going on on the inside.  These kids brought me, for a moment, into the heart beat of their community.  Everything about it looks different when looking from the inside out.  I feel like I could have sat on that cement block for a long, long time, just watching, and learning to see.

 

 

conspire to inspire!

I have been struck of late at how many false impressions I had regarding humanity.

For some time, the lines of race, nationality, experience, and class seemed to have become opportunities to embrace division, and the false belief that they are greater than love, greater than common humanity. I felt myself as awkwardly situated, having the desire to know my neighbors to the south, east, west, and north, but feeling as though there was too much difference to do so, and moreover, too much difference to engage in a meaningful way.  All of the stories of things which have gone wrong rung in my mind, and I found myself caught in an inner contradiction.  The desire to hear people’s real, true stories, however, was more than the suspicion that it was impossible to do so, and so, in an act of mercy, the door was opened for me to step into a new world, and learn to hear and see a new reality.

What I am hearing, seeing, and learning in this new reality come as a great surprise; I am learning that when someone is engaged in a work whose origins are in love, compassion, and mercy, that work is somehow available to all who would share in that.  Partnership in the great reversal of hatred, fear, and self-love belongs to us all, and can be engaged in from any and every corner of the globe.

What I am learning is that each of us has a distinct part to play in this great reversal; and no two parts look the same.  Furthermore, no two parts can exist in isolation, and no part is necessarily greater or worse as measured by externals.  For example, consider the role of communication in every process that occurs in life, from the transcription and translation of DNA, to the execution of transnational organizations and governmental bodies.  Communication is an enabler which facilitates a process, and is thus critically important.  And, as in transcription and translation, communication happens as a result of many different organisms working together.

Consider the receptionist who sits in the office of an organization.  She, or he, may often be considered to play a less important role than the director of that organization, but, what would happen to every process which she affects if she were not there?

And yet, she is no less, and no more important than the person who empties the trash, who brings tea, who does the seemingly insignificant work that often goes unappreciated.  As Mike Bickle once said, love and servant hood is what, at the end of the day, equalized us all.

These are my reflections for the day!

Thanks