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Once upon a continent….There was an African Dream

I am so privileged to be in the company of some incredible people in my life, and to watch as history is made and unmade before my eyes.  

Stories.  Stories have the power to create and to destroy, to bring someone into another time and place.  We are each woven together as part of a Story; it is encoded in our DNA, it speaks to us in the beauty of creation, and it beckons us to enter into it in everything that we do.  

One example of history being made|unmade is Africa Awareness Initiative Conference Week coming up this week at various venues around UBC.  It aspires to:

  1. To give prominence to the various ways in which Africa’s story can be told, while emphasizing and celebrating performance, research, film, art and music.

  2. To deconstruct the existing narratives surrounding the African continent, particularly the dominant discourse concerning African people, culture and politics.

  3.  To connect the UBC community with the Africa Awareness Initiative, as well as the initiative’s continuing efforts to advocate for the African Studies Major Program.

  4. To cultivate interest in the African continent among members of the UBC community, and as a result highlight the continued need for a more extensive UBC African Studies Program (http://africaawareness.ca/conference-week2013/)

As someone who has had the joy to spend time in different parts of the continent of Africa, I can almost taste the beautiful thing that is to come this week!

 

WATER | WIND

I woke up this morning with a perspective I have never had before; it was new, refreshing, and yet very familiar.

As night gave way to morning hours I awoke to a sudden revelation of water and wind.

Water is everything, yet it is nothing.  It is the single raindrop which falls upon your yellow umbrella.  It is the rushing torrent which brings power and electricity to the city.  Water is fluid, mobile, and move-able.

Water does not seek its own name or fame. It simply is. And in being, it brings life and refreshment to the weary, it brings cleansing to one covered in dirt.  Water is life.

Water moves to a rhythm we can’t hear, it flows across borders, invades impossible places, slowly erodes immovable structures with the gentle kiss of its passing.

And wind.  It is everywhere yet cannot be seen. Throwing itself upon static air it invigorates and inspires movement without a word.  Leaves dance in its invisible arms.

Water | Wind.

“We share a sacred endowment, a common history written in our bones. The myriad of cultures of the world are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempt to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?
When asked this question, the cultures of the world respond in 7000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with the challenges that will confront us as a species over the next 2500 generations, even as we continue this never ending journey…”

p. 19, Wade Davis, The Wayfinders.

Well said Wade! 

Making Meaning

It has been nearly two months since I returned from Uganda.  

Like a pot of stew simmering on low, I have since been making meaning of this incredible experience, quite quietly, but quite deeply.  Many things happen beneath the surface. Like a child who is watching the words which fall out of the people around him in perfect order, in silence, and one day, begins speaking full sentences without any kind of preamble. This kind of thing cannot be rushed. 

As a child, I ran before I walked. I am sure that many (9 to be exact) months passed in which I imagined the forward motion of my own legs, until one fateful day, I started tearing down the hallway without warning.  So I hear.  

I’ve been running down the hallway ever since.  But what does it mean?  

What does it mean to discover that a country on the other side of the world feels like home?  And, that the people therein, like family?  I have been pondering these questions, among others, for quite some time, and have come across a few phrases which spoke volumes: 

We share a sacred endowment, a common history written in our bones. 

Wade Davis, The Wayfinders, p. 19

He is of course referring to humanity as a whole, alluding to the oneness which is beneath the fragmentation of our broken world, to the Story which has been written since the beginning of time, which we are ever in the process of living. 

He is talking about us. His Story. Our humanity.  

I think at the end of the day, my immersion into Uganda was an immersion into the reality that I am a piece of a never ending work of art, a poem, a song, a story, one which is shared between us all.  There is no divide between the syllables of a word, between the notes of a song, between the brilliant shades of red, orange,and turquoise which illuminate a canvas.  We are together even when we are apart, because we belong to one another.  

The Train

This is an excerpt taken from my journal on the train ride from Seattle to Vancouver after attending a revolutionary global health conference at the University of Washington

There are two sides to every coin.

I say as I travel in a train going home. On one side, the ocean lies, beckoning. Silently, birds cascade the surface. The other side changes with every mile. Green boughs decorate cement infrastructure  Yellow blossoms edge in upon the melody of trees.

There are two sides to every coin. Existing withing a tension, they mediate differences and converge in their opposition. I feel as if this train will slide into the ocean’s depths; this predetermined trajectory ebbs and touches the shoreline.

There are two sides to every coin. I see graffiti next to mansions, freeways next to free trade next to bondage. I see communication lines built up yet real understanding torn down.

Every day, we learn a little bit more. We press on and become more. Become less. Contradictions are

Our lives. Learning and unlearning, I love it when my expectations are shattered or far exceeded.  When I meet people who remind me of who I am and embrace me with open arms. I love that things like learning and justice and desire for goodness know not boundaries. They cannot be contained.

Learning to love. Love is the currency of transformation, and love doesn’t show favoritism, and doesn’t recognize race, religion, or color. Love knows no boundaries.