Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

They Have Square Bread

Square bread. They have square bread. The other is round. I am still figuring this out. They also have a toilet that deserves to be in an art museum. There have been many of these kinds of moments today. In case you were wondering, I slept straight through the night and woke up shortly before seven. And though I'm tired, I think it is more due to a VERY full day! The morning was relaxed as I talked to other travelers around the breakfast table discussing our plans and the Christmas traditions of Ghana. People come from all over the world to be here. When I went to the office to get a taxi, they explained to me that the Friends International Center was just a ten minute walk up the road. Did I still want that taxi? I decided I didn't, that I could walk. It will probably be my one time in all the time I'm here going somewhere unescourted. I got to the Friends Center no problem, it's actually more like a compound with a computer room/shack, a snack shack, basketball hoop, large house which serves as the FWCC office for Kenya (Edith there was wonderful), a play ground and... the prettiest Friends meeting house I have EVER seen. A man there helped me find an open door in the back I could sneak into to take a peak. It has the simplicity that is so classical of Quakers with lots of light and high windows. You can bet I got pictures.

Ababu Samson arrived shortly after that and while I waited in the car, I got a good look at my face in the mirror,"WHAT???" Concerned, I went back into the office and found Edith and she agreed it was probably bug bites from the night before. When I got here to the hostel last night, I dropped my bags off and had dinner outside. Oops. Other guests got it too. So now I have at least three dozen bug bites on my face and hands but I am sure they will go down soon. I bought some cream to help it this afternoon. (Which is SOOO much cheaper here by the way.) Lesson learned. And don't worry, I'm taking malaria pills.

From there we went straight to Kibera which is beyond description. Driving in Samson's car, we drove deep into the slum to the school, with the windows open by the way. People stared at me and no wonder, I stuck out like a white sock in a sea of brown. Children continually shouted, "How are you?!", the only English they know and I responded in kind. There is no plumbing, there is no garbage pickup. That right there should tell you something. I won't ever forget it. The rutted streets, open ditches, their homes, the little booths for stores, the smell, the smiling children and adults. Oh, and the wandering chickens, ducks, goats (had to honk at those to make them move), and dogs. Most of the streets are dirt, and bumpy doesn't even begin to describe them. We parked and walked the rest of the way into the school, Samson paid a man to watch the car. We walked over the garbage, through narrow paths and found the non-descript sheet metal door in a wall. Children were standing nearby when we came in and we walked to the office where the headmaster and two teachers were. They told me about the school, the lack of funding for the feeding program, the kids who go to the school, the testing they go through, how their teachers are volunteer, and how they built the school in the first place. The physical building is NOTHING like you would find in America and the kids are better behaved quite frankly. They want to be there, they want to learn. We went to a class and they sang and recited Bible verses for the "guests". I also got to take a picture with the class. (Their song I recorded.) Samson used to live in Kibera so I got an insiders story on what that is like at lunch. We also saw a building they own (though only the mosques are permanent structures) where they rent out the rooms to help pay for the school.

After lunch, we went to the famous bead shop in Karen and John took us for a tour there. We got to see the whole process of all these single mothers making the beads and they let me take pictures. The artist in me was just delighted to get to do this. Half of the proceeds go back to the women and I loved meeting them. Those beads come in all colors and deigns, it was a wonderful experience. From there we headed to a crocodile, ostrich, and giraffe center. They don't have them yards away like they do at zoos. They are close up. Maybe a yard away from me. I loved looking at the alligators and our tour guide poked at the crocodiles so I could see them react. They were NOT HAPPY to have their naps in the sun interupted. (And yes, it is warm here.) Next were the ostriches, they don't have feathers on the thighs. That surprised me and their feet looked neat. Next were the mating turtles and the male turtle was apparently enjoying himself with vocalization. (I only got a picture of that one.) The female periodically tried to move. Didn't work. Next was the peacock, beautiful, and then my favorite- the giraffe. He was two years old and HUGE! He was so tall! Normally in a zoo, you would NEVER get to do this but I did. I got to pet the giraffe and scratch him behind his ears which he liked. His tongue (purple by the way), wrapped around my hand and he licked it. It felt like sand paper. I LOVED it and let him do it several times.

We then went shopping at a market where the aisles were so small, I don't think two people could walk abreast. And EVERY owner emphatically invited me in to look at what they had. EVERY shop keeper. I did a little shopping there and every time, Samson was the one who did the bargaining. The shop keepers were NOT happy with this arrangement. He knew what things cost and demanded they give him the Kenya price, not the tourist in. He later told me the shop keepers were mad at him as if he was betraying his kind. I just quietly stood there and let him go at it in a language I did not understand. He was pretty happy with himself when we left. I also got to see the mall which was also interesting. We stopped for tea there. I have had A LOT of tea. I like it. I got his story in between activities and we talked a lot about Kenya and the culture. Then when we bought water, I got to wait in another line, how fun. You wait a lot here. Speed is not one of their values.

People walk a lot here. They walk everywhere and that includes in traffic. I got to be in a traffic jam tonight on our way to show me where Samson works and lives. There were cars in the intersection trying to go every which way. The driving is crazy. I was warned on this by a fellow traveler so I wasn't surprised, but when they go and how they go is definitely a new experience for me. Is a car pulling out in your path? No problem! Just keep going. Squeeze past that bus moving in your lane. No problem, just keep going. I have to say, I was very relaxed about it all. The other thing that was interesting for me? I saw eighteen other white people the ENTIRE day (except for the hostel). Everyone else is black and I saw A LOT of people. I stuck out of the crowd like nobody's business. I've been in a presentation like that but not most of the day. Muzungu is here. Check her out, size her up. A saw a woman look me up and down this morning at the Friends Center and I am sure it went on from there. I was even blown a kiss in the slum. I waved back.

Tomorrow the safari company is picking me up so I won't be able to write again until at least the fourth but I am sure I will have some good stories by that time. I hope you are all doing well. Kwaheri! (Goodbye)

365-09 #344

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arrived Safely in Nairobi

Dear Friends,
Jambo! I am now in Nairobi at Wildebeest Camp safe and sound. The planes were on time and I enjoyed the trip though by the end, I was ready to be off the plane. The first leg, nearly ten hours, the plane had lots of empty seats so I got to stretch out over two of them, a nice treat for such a long flight. Deanna, I read that book you recommended and it was good-I enjoyed it. In Amsterdam, I looked around at the stores and the little art museum in the airport. (Trust me to find the art museum.) The second leg of the trip from Amsterdam to Nairobi, I spent with two great seat mates, Russel and Lily. Lily was a crack up, she made me laugh a lot with her talking Jesus doll she takes photos of when she goes on trips. She is very clever and is here to work with people with HIV. Russel is here to help get four small business off the ground. We were all three from the US and all here for ministry so before we landed, we took our picure together and prayed. I was really excited to see Italy from the sky! And I got to see a lot of Italy.
What has surprised me most so far? The Visa line. It wasn't actually that long but it was really slow. I took it as my first cultural experience and made conversation with those around me. The man from Wildebeest was waiting for me with a sign for "Sarah". He told me we were waiting for another person too and when she showed up, we found out we have the same name. Sure made that sign easy! He drove us to the hostel which is lovely even in the dark. There are gardens, a large house, and a patio with fire pit where we were shown a display of Masai singing and of course, we had to join in on some of the dancing. Now I am going to head to bed and hopefully get some sleep. I fell asleep this afternoon over the Mediterranean Sea but I think I'll still sleep through the night. And let me just tell you, the Sudan is indeed a lot of desert. The sand just goes on forever.
I hope you all had a great weekend! Tomorrow is the school visitation!

Asenta sana (Thank you very much) for your prayers.

365-09 #343

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Teilard de Chardin

I think I found a new mystic to enter into the circle of "my favorites". Teilard de Chardin was wonderful to read, I kept finding quotes I loved that spoke to my spirit. I have found it very inspiring to think about the deeper reality that underlies everything we see and hear. This reality, the Divine, connects us and everything we see. Knowing that, opening my heart to hear it, feel it around me, sustains my spirit and helps me feel close to the Divine. Teilard senses this too when he says, "The world is filled, and filled with the Absolute. To see this is to be made free." I love his thoughts that God is in everything, that he is still creating, and that we can be a part of it. I love how he said we need to grow and know ourselves, to love, live, and experience life. I also loved this quote, "...unless he understands the full depth of the truth that Jesus must be loved as a world." We must love the world around us, the world God made. If we don't love the creation, how can we love the Creator? I loved the thought we can love God, love Jesus, through loving people, the earth, even ourselves. It's a beautiful thing.

365-09 #342

Labels: ,

I Fly Out in the Morning!

Here we are. My last night in the US until right before Christmas. I've had a lot of people ask me if I am excited and I can now say I am really excited now that I'm letting my mind focus on the actual trip and not just the preparations. My backpack sits at home with only a few things to add in such as a deck of cards for around the campfire on the safari and my Bible. I've even started the Malaria medication. I'll be working on the talks some more with Eden and on the Internet while I'm there.

I feel like I'm leaving in a time warp. Here in the US, the Christmas season has officially begun. The neighborhoods are now dotted with Christmas lights and next week, all the holiday concerts will begin and where I am I? In 81 degree weather. Not a bad trade, I must say. Still, I won't be back until right before Christmas. I like the idea of getting to leave for awhile, getting a wider perspective on things, growing, and seeing the moon on the other side of the world. I'm really looking forward to seeing the stars, elephants, and meeting new F/friends and seeing some old ones. I'm looking forward to whatever God has in store for me. He has provided for me every step of the way and I am so grateful.

I can't thank you all enough for your help emotionally, financially, and prayerfully. I wouldn't have been able to do this without you and I know that as I take off on that plane tomorrow, your well-wishes will be going with me. Thank you for that. So as Bilbo Baggins once said, "I am going now, I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye." I'll see (write) you all on the other side of the equator.

365-09 #341

Labels: ,

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Practical Side

It was refreshing to read Johannes Tauler, a mystic with a practical side. I think his words are as appropriate and timely today as they were in his time. We still struggle to see work as something to incorporate as a part of our spiritual lives. We think work takes us away from our lives when in actuality, it is our lives. This fall, I have been volunteering at a library when I don't get called in to substitute at another school. My two friends are the librarians there and I enjoy helping them on projects. It is actually easier for me to think about doing it to honor God when I'm not getting paid, easier to see it as a spiritual exercise when a check doesn't come in the mail. Helping them out is its own reward, seeing their load lightened helps me to see a way in which God is using me. Besides, sitting and contemplating all day does not suit me, I am not the eye of the body. Maybe I am the heart with a bit of the hands. Inward reflection with outward action. It was one of the things I really liked about his sermon- be yourself. Don't try to be someone you are not. God made you just as you are and that is good. As I get ready to leave for Africa, that is a good truth to remember. Just being myself will be enough. If God chose me he has also equipped me and I need not fear.

I also wanted to share with you something I am really proud of that I did this week. I am making READ posters for a school and this one is my favorite. It features the librarians, and they really do compliment each other so this design was perfect. Learning how to do this and seeing the result still gives me warm fuzzies inside.

365-09 #340

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Africa Itinerary

Here is the itinerary for my trip to Africa. Feel free to bookmark this post and check back every once in a while to find out where I'll be that day! I know a lot more about the first part of the trip than the last half but from what I've heard, it will all be incredible, transforming, with lots of time to get to know people and the land. I've put in hyperlinks to websites for certain places so you can find out more information along with some pictures of where I'll be. I'll be posting when I can but from what I know so far, I will be able to post more during the first half than the second. Thank you all for your support, I wouldn't have been able to go on this trip if not for your love, advice, and financial gifts. You have made a world of difference in my life and I thank you. May you feel God's presence during this season of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. May he bless you and keep you until we meet again.

November 28th – Flight
Fly out of Portland at 12:52 pm to Amsterdam then on to Nairobi, Kenya.

November 29th – Evening at the Hostel
Be picked up from the airport by Wildebeest Hostel. Go back to hostel, have dinner, and get some sleep!
Wildebeest Hostel

November 30th - Kibera Slum
I’m meeting a fellow Quaker who is taking me to see a school in Kibera slum, the densest slum in Africa, about 1,250 people per acre. There is lots of information and pictures on the Internet if you are interest in learning more about it. I found this quote from a BBC article: “Suddenly, the light changes and we both look out of the window as the train emerges from a dark cutting. We're in the slum. ”’Home,’ says Julius without looking at me. The smells leaps into the carriage. Wood fires, fried fish, excrement, rubbish - the rich stench of 800,000 people living in a ditch. Which is, basically, what the Kibera slum is. Six hundred acres of mud and filth, with a brown stream dribbling through the middle. You won't find it on your tourist map - or any other map. It's a squatters camp - an illegal, forgotten city - and at least one third of Nairobi lives here.“

In the afternoon, I’m planning on going to the city market then back to the hostel for dinner and some sleep which I am sure will be much needed with the eleven hour time change.

December 1st - Nairobi - Masai Mara
Leave for the 4 day Maasai Mara camping safari with Jocky Safaris. Depart Nairobi in the morning and drive through Kikuyu farmlands to the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Stop briefly to view the Great Rift Valley at the view point. Lunch at Narok where I have a walk around the Maasai Town. Arrive Mara late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the campsite.

December 2nd - Masai Mara ( Full Day)
After breakfast proceed for a full day of game viewing at the Maasai Mara Reserve. Picnic lunch at the Hippo Pool. Dinner and overnight at the Campsite.

December 3rd - Masai Mara ( Full Day)
Another full day is spent in the Mara reserve. This day you have an option of going to visit the masai village to learn more about their culture. All meals and overnight at campsite.

December 4th - Nairobi
Pre-morning game drive, after breakfast depart to Nairobi with game drive enroute and picnic lunch arriving at around 5pm. Meet Eden Grace and Bainito at Savelberg Guest House.

December 5th – Nairobi
Eden takes myself, Holly, Marielke, and Emily (who flew in the day before) to the Giraffe Center, Elephant Orphanage, and maybe shopping.

December 6th – Nairobi
Worship with Quakers in Nairobi, hosted by Nairobi Young Adult Friends. Tourist options in the afternoon include a Nairobi Nature Walk or shopping for dresses.

December 7th – Nakuru
Leave Nairobi early in the morning, drive to Nakuru in time for an afternoon game drive in the Lake Nakuru National Park. Spend the night in Nakuru at St Mary's.

“Nakuru provides the visitor with one of Kenya’s best known images. Thousands of flamingo, joined into a massive flock, fringe the shores of this soda lake. A pulsing pink swathe of life that carpets the water, the flamingo are a breathtaking sight.

The lake has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on algae that forms on the lake bed. They move back and forth, feeding and occasionally and spectacularly taking to flight, filling the sky over the lake with colour. The lake is extremely variable in size- changing from 5 up to 30 sq kms in area. Nakuru has more than just flamingos. This is a major National Park and an important sanctuary for Rhino. Both Black and White Rhino are found here, and are often seen resting under acacias by the Lake shore.

The park abounds with game. There are huge herds of waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and more. This is one of your best chances of seeing Leopard in Kenya, and there are several large prides of Lion. Exploring beyond the lake is always rewarding and there are forests, cliffs, waterfalls and more to be found here. Nearby Nakuru town is a busy and thriving local centre with a bustling market. The town is a hub for local transport and travel.”

December 8th – Mabanga
Drive Nakuru to Western Kenya. Arrive at Mabanga in the early afternoon. Rest.

December 9th – Mabanga
Optional activities include preparation of the conference programme and visiting Lugulu Hospital. The conference begins after at the Mabanga Farmer's Training Centre.

December 10th – Mabanga
Conference continues. I give a workshop on women in ministry.

December 11th – Mabanga
Conference continues with special interest topics by the attendees.

December 12th – Conference Excursions
Conference excursions from 9:30-4:00 includes the choices of Kakamega Forest, Webuye waterfalls and caves, Kitale Nature Centre, Mt Elgon National Park, or Nabongo of Mumia historical site. (See here for story.) Right now, I think my first choice is Mt. Elgon with Kakamega Forest after that.

December 13th – Travel to Turkana
The conference ends; depart Mabanga in the early afternoon with John, Emily, and Holly to Turkana with Lomuria's team.

December 14th – Travel / Visiting Turkana

December 15th – Travel / Visiting Turkana

December 16th – North Youth Conference
Youth conference begins.

December 17th – North Youth Conference
Youth conference continues. I speak on youth in ministry this day or on one of the next two.

December 18th – North Youth Conference
Youth conference continues.

December 19th – North Youth Conference
Youth conference continues.

December 20th – Kisumu
Meet up with Eden and go to Kisumu.

December 21st – Kisumu to Nairobi
Fly from Kisumu to Nairobi and then depart Nairobi at 10:25 pm to Amsterdam.

December 22nd – Travel to Portland
Fly to Amsterdam for a five hour layover before continuing on to Minneapolis, spend a two hour layover there, fly to Portland arriving at 4:35 pm.

365-09 #339

Labels: ,

St. John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross has for many years been one of my favorite mystics, one of the ones I connect with the most. He understands what it is like to be in the dark night. He understands what it feels like to be taken apart in the hands of God. I read his book, Dark Night of the Soul, when I needed it the most; it was a great comfort to hear his voice and to hear him explain just where I was at.

One of the questions I've always wanted to ask John concerns his opinion that the soul feels God is absent in the dark night for their senses are shut off to the Divine presence. It is the one big point of the dark night I diverge on. I have never felt God's presence more intimately than I did when his hand was the only thing I could feel. Even today, when I am searching, exploring, asking questions, I still can feel his hand holding mine; I know God is there and that he loves me even when I have nothing left to give him in return. Did John ever ask that question or was he quite sure that, as he says, "These souls do not get satisfaction or consolation from the things of God."?

That whole time in my life is still so real to me and I am so grateful to have gone through it. As John so aptly says, it is a dry time of purgation and emptying. But I needed that emptying, I needed to be taken apart and put back together and John is right, it is a very passive process. The soul is acted upon, it does nothing. "They will be doing a great deal without activity on their part. All that is required of them here is freedom of soul....They must be content simply with a loving and peaceful attentiveness to God."

In the end, even when it's dark, John says God is still there. Whether we can see him or not, whether we can feel him or not, he is there in the night transforming our souls to see what is truly light.

365-09 #338

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baby Laugh

What a great way to start the day!

365-09 #337


Monday, November 23, 2009

Share My Joy

I've been asked the current countdown, it is four and a half days. WOW. I'm trying not to think about it in those terms. I pray I'll be ready. It's a good thing that after tomorrow I have the day free to work on things. I still have to write a paper for the class I'm auditing plus the posts. That should be interesting. :)

When I came home tonight, my roommate showed me the Charlie Brown Christmas tree she had put up. Nine little tufts of green with one red ball at the top. There are snowflake decals on the glass doors out to the balcony and lights all around my hope chest and her DVD stand. I love that little Christmas tree, it warms my heart like a sitting by a roaring fire with eggnog in my hands on Christmas Eve. The little things have come to mean so much to me, the little things in my life are the stars in my sky and love is the moon.

Today has been full of blessings and I am grateful. I got to spend most of the day with two wonderful women, learned some good language to describe spiritual direction (future post), contributed to their work in a creative way with tools I am good at using, got to celebrate two awesome events in the life of a friend at an unexpected party, and was blown away by the generosity of those around me as I have been for many weeks now. Even with all that has to get done and the tension that brings, my heart, my life is full and I am full of joy and thanksgiving. Life is good and it will continue to be good. As Jews, we celebrate life often. Our refrain is "L'Chaim" or "To life!" I really like this description: "L'Chaim reveals a lot about the Jewish approach to life. The phrase is not to a good life, to a healthy life, or even to a long life. It is simply to life, recognizing that life is indeed good and precious and should always be celebrated and savored. L'Chaim!" This is my happy L'Chaim dance tonight.

365-09 #336

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pentacle's 55th Anniversary

Here are some of the photos I took at Pentacle's 55th Anniversary. It was really fun to do the photography of a large event like this.

365-09 #335

Labels: , ,

Birthday Celebrations

Here they are at last, pictures from my birthday celebrations. Thank you to each and every one of you who made my birthday so special. With all of you, my life is truly overflowing with riches immeasurable. I thank God for you.

365-09 #334

Labels: , , ,

Good Food for Thought

I'm cleaning out the virtual post-it notes on my desktop so here are some of the quotes I've put on them that I've really liked.

(This one I really like for going to Kenya and the poetry that will result from it.)
Take me to the places on earth
That teach you how to dance
The places where you can risk
Letting the world break your heart

And I will take you to the places
Where the earth beneath my feet
And the stars overhead
Make my heart whole
And Again

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This one is for Adria: "It turns out that I already have everything I need to be successful; I just have to do it. The necessary brains, courage, and heart are already present."

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh

“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.” Eudora Welty

"The wound that can only heal with the sword that inflicted it."

A prayer for myself: "What stands out most to me is the integrity and passion you bring and give to your audience." and "What makes it work is that you put yourself into it."

365-09 #333

Labels: ,

Exchange Paradigm - Part 3 of 3

The exchange paradigm puts us in a prison. The unfortunate thing is some people never realize their spirits are locked away. They sit by the bars and think their small cell is all there is. They don't realize there are meadows, mountains, and flowers to run through. Thus, the first step out is to realize what we're in. As soon as we do that, we can start working on the key. It's hard, the key is very dirty after years of disuse and it might even frighten us in the beginning. But as we clean the key and learn how to use it, we start taking the first steps outside of our cell.

What is this key you ask? Forgiveness. Not holding grudges. Not holding things against another person. Releasing them from the debt they owe you. Not thinking yourself righteous and the other unclean. No longer judging the other soul. Even seeing the best inside that person and loving them though they might not ever love you back. It can be done. You don't have to be buddies with them. You don't even have to see them. Forgiving and hanging out with that person are two different things. Sometimes forgiving can lead to a renewed relationship and that is a beautiful, miraculous thing to behold. But at other times, the other person, though you see the best in them, does not see the best in themselves. They are still unsafe for you to be around and that is okay. It shows you are taking care of yourself and keeping good boundaries if you know a relationship with them would be destructive for the both of you. For no matter who hurts the other, both people always get hurt. Those people you can still think well of and love at a distance safe for your soul. Others, you may choose to have a limited relationship with, not close, but knowing there is good for the both of you, you still see and talk to them on occasion but at the same time, remember that as much as you love them, they still have a hard time seeing love in the world around them.

This place outside of the cell is the love paradigm. After you've delved into forgiveness for yourself and others, you are then able to wholeheartedly love those around you. This new love paradigm is where you place love before hate, forgiveness before a grudge. This is a love you don't measure, you don't keep track of. It's a love that gives without expecting a return, a love that gives for the delight of giving, the delight of knowing you've brightened someone's way. This love paradigm is where everyone is treasured for the gift they are. It is to look with Divine eyes and then be brought to our knees by the beauty of each person. This love is given freely, openly, unreservedly. This is the love God gives to us and it is the love that we are naturally meant to give each other.

By living in a love paradigm, our souls live free. If we choose to judge instead of love, we are chained to our judgement. In love, there are no chains. We know our strength, we know God's strength. Then out of that strength, confidence, and self-care, we can pour out our lives into others, even while our own life is filled.

This is a life-giving paradigm and it is so much better than sitting in that cold cell. Only when we leave the cell do we realize how confining the inner prison really was. Only when we take off our shoes and run through the meadows do we see how worth it forgiveness was. How about you give that dirty key a good look? It is made of the knowledge of the love of God for every soul. Let the chains go and take a step out into love.

365-09 #332

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cheryl and Sophie at the Beach

On Monday, I am helping Adria and Kim in the library since there are no students and I won't be substituting somewhere else. One of the projects they would like me to tackle is making READ posters, posters with pictures of the teachers like the celebrity READ Posters you see at the library. This involves some knowledge of photoshop, thus, why they asked me. However, though another librarian has shown me before how to do it, I needed help. I contacted my friend, Janelle, and she walked me through masking and layering, teaching me the skills I needed. Sometimes, when someone asks me how to do something, I don't know everything I'll need to know to complete the project. But that's okay, I go out and learn the necessary skills. So though I'm just beginning in this area, I am very proud of the picture below for it uses all the skills Janelle has taught me. I feel like I have accomplished something new. Yay for me!

Cheryl and Sophie at the beach: "Get off the phone, off my hand, and enjoy the view already!" OR "You said this was going to be a quick call!"

Put as a comment any other captions you can think of! This picture is just asking for them. :)

365-09 #331

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Differences in Africa

I thought this might be of interest to any of you particularly interested in my trip to Kenya. The current countdown is nine days. That scares me a bit just to think about as I'm not ready to go. Blessedly, there is no school for students next week so I won't be subbing and will have to time to work on all this instead.

Samson has decidedly told me that not only will he take me to visit the school in Kibera, but he will also personally take care of me for the day, a generous gesture I am deeply grateful for.

In my research for the itinerary I will be posting here, I found this blog posting written by another Quaker who met with some of the same people I will be spending time with. At one point, he wrote about the difference he noted in Africa:

Differences in Africa

During the month I was in Kenya, I noticed a few little differences between here and there, which follow.

The estimates of numbers of Kenyan Friends vary widely, from 130,000 to 300,000. Many of these Friends live in Western Province, which is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Most people you meet there are Quaker.

There is only one unprogrammed meeting in all of Kenya. It is in Nairobi, and only 10 or 15 attend it each week.

Corruption, especially financial corruption, is apparently common in Quaker churches in Kenya. I even heard stories of church officials embezzling funds.

The sun rises at 6:30 sharp each day. It sets at 6:30 sharp each day. This is true throughout the year. From twilight to total darkness is very quick--about half an hour.

Internet connections are excruciatingly slow, much slower than a modem connection in the US. Also, it is very likely that any particular packet will fail, which makes some activities impossible rather than slow--for instance, buying things on-line.

AIDS is extremely common. I heard it estimated that roughly 1/3 of the people in Kenya are infected. That would mean that 22 of the attendees of the WGYF in Africa have AIDS.

The police have very few cars and are almost never seen driving around. If you need the police, you must go to them or transport them to you. It seems their function is not to protect people, but rather to file reports of laws being broken.

Except in Nairobi or Turkana, it is frowned upon for men to wear shorts, or for women to wear shorts or pants.

Children trust strangers. Adults seem to as well. It seems like everyone is willing to invite you into their house for tea.

Tea is made with heated milk, not with heated water.

Information is considered a burden, and being a good host means keeping as much information as possible from your guests.

There are very few manufacturing plants in Kenya. Almost all of the objects you see are either hand-made or imported from another country. Signs and billboards are almost universally hand-painted.

Lawns and open, grassy places are extremely rare. It seems almost all land is used for farming. Mostly the land is divided up into small subsistence plots.

Body odor is not of concern in Kenya. People just smell like they smell and sweat when they sweat. I stopped wearing deodorant, too.

Plumbing never freezes. This means that plumbers run pipes up and down and every which way. Which means that it is the water pressure pushes the water through the pipes. Which means that if you drain your pipes of water, it is very hard to get them going again.

Meals were mostly meat and a grains. The most popular grain was a cornmeal mush called ugali. Tortilla-like pancakes called chapati were also common, as was rice. The meat was often tough and very savory.

Interesting huh?

365-09 #330

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Francis De Sales

I really liked Francis De Sales view that you can have unity with God without visions but you cannot have unity without action. The text called it a grounded mysticism, a term I appreciated. A friend posted a question on facebook last night asking whether the gospel is what you believe or what you do. I've been learning lately that the gospel is more what you do. I can show the gospel better than I can say it. Saying it is a lot easier but to actually get it across, to really communicate the love of God, feet must be put to faith. We can preach all we want but until we follow what we say with love, the message isn't going to be truly powerful. Francis sees such living out of love as the third ecstasy that crowns the other two, "It is the ecstasy of work and life."

I have lately been thinking that love cannot be measured out, we cannot really love while expecting something back in return. We must simply love another human soul, put that love into action, and not expect them to equally return the gift. Love cannot be paid and paid back. Love simply is. Love is a feeling, a choice, lived out. It is the strongest force of faith. Reading Francis' thoughts on the subject affirmed my thoughts and encouraged me to keep thinking them.

365-09 #329

(Sorry, too late for photos today.)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That was Fun!

I went out tonight and celebrated my birthday with friends after tap dancing. A friend I ran into asked if they were family, and I said yes, they were, they are my tap family, we've been together for quite some time. It was so much fun, we had a great time and as it went late, I am going to bed. Pictures of my birthday will be posted tomorrow. Have a good night!

365-09 #328


Monday, November 16, 2009

Exchange Paradigm - Part 2

Why do we stay in a self-made prison? Why do we stay in a place that shuts out life from our souls? Why do we hold grudges? Don't we understand that the chains we hold for someone else weighs us down in the floods of grief and bitterness?

When we hold grudges, we see the pain inflicted on us as the larger debt and our own as the smaller. We don't see how much we ourselves have done, how much we need forgiveness. We just see the the junk in someone else's backyard and completely miss our own. We choose not to have the perspective on them we need to be able to forgive. We can also take the hate we hold as part of our identity. Without it, who would we be? Perhaps we have lived with it so long, we forget that hate doesn't belong inside of us. We start thinking the prison is reality, that the walls will always be there and that anywhere outside of them is dangerous and unsafe.

By holding grudges and judgement, by looking down on another person, we play the exchange game. We place ourselves in the judgement lineup without fully realizing we are next in line. The handcuffs we cast always have two locks- one for them, one for ourselves. Hating rents the fabric of our very humanity. It doesn't necessarily rent the fabric of the one despized, but it ALWAYS rents the fabric of the one who hates- it is a tearing apart of our very souls. Not only does it tear us apart but having such hate inside of us spills over into the ones we love and tears them apart as well. Hate is not content to stay inside one person. As it grows, as it festers, so does its appetite. It drives families and friends apart. It drives away those we most want to keep and we don't realize what we've done, what we've lost, until it's too late.

Deciding to take a look at yourself and step beyond the walls is a very scary thing to do. You're accepting that the pain you've known, what you have thought of as reality is not reality. You are accepting there is something more, something you can't controll. You have to come face to face with the darker side of yourself and accept yourself just as you are before you can accept the darkness and goodness inside of everybody else. Only by releasing our need to be in the right, will we realize the good, the rightness, in the other.

Life is too short to look down an another. Life is too fleeting to hold a grudge. Life is just too short not to know FREEDOM. Life is too precious to throw it away and that is exactly what you do when you place yourself over another. Do you know how much energy it takes to judge another? Do you realize how much joy it saps from the relationships around you? Do you realize how much hate is costing you every day? If you did, you would no longer look down on them. I guarantee it.

Why are you still here? Take up your mat and walk! There is a grace paradigm just waiting to welcome you.

365-09 #327

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Exchange Paradigm - Part 1

My friend, Wess, spoke on the last few lines of the Lord's prayer this morning in church. In discussing forgiveness, he said some thought provoking things that have been in the back of my mind ever since.

At one point, he talked about the story of the servant who was forgiven an unimaginably large debt but did not forgive a fellow servant who owed him a rather small debt. He said the King operated under a grace paradigm but that the servant operated under an exhange paradigm. When the King found out the servant did not forgive the other servant the much smaller debt after being forgiven a really large debt, the King saw he operated on the principle of exchange, that what you give ought to be what you get. So since he gave unforgiveness, the King joined in the world of exchange and gave him unforgiveness. The King played by the rules the servant chose for himself.

When we choose to hate, when we choose to hold real or imagained wrongs done against another person, we are working under an exchange paradigm. We think the other person is completely wrong and we are completely right. We think they have done great wrong and completely miss the wrong we ourselves have done. We pass judgement on them. We throw them in our own jail. But by putting people in the jail of debt, we ourselves place ourselves in the same cold cell, locked in by the key we ourselves made. If we operate under an exchange paradigm, that includes everyone, including you and me. If we judge others, we will judge ourselves and come out guilty every time. If we cannot forgive others, we will not forgive ourselves or be able to accept anyone else's forgiveness. We will be trapped, and the walls of that trap are not kind. They close in, they shut out the light, they shut out, or shut in, everything good about us. They are like a poison seeping through our bodies and one day it will have seeped through so far, we will no longer recongnize ourselves.

Why do we stay?

365-09 #326

Labels: , ,

365-09 #326

Saturday, November 14, 2009

With Love

This morning I was talking with a friend about how we touch each other's lives- how we treat each other, the love we show and share, and the time we give. Then this afternoon as I cleaned, I played Clay Aiken's Christmas album. On the CD is this song, it's one of my favorites. A good reminder to reach out to those around us.

365-09 #325


Friday, November 13, 2009

Souls Such as These

I was talking to a woman at the school I was working at today about a mutual aquaintance. (There are a lot of interconections in the district, especially if you grew up here.) During our conversation, she told me that just being in the same room as this person made her feel good. Even though she hasn't spent a lot of time talking with them one on one, this person's presence alone brings her a quiet joy. I recently spoke on Karl Rahner for my mystics class and one of his students said the same thing. He said that though he did not always understand what Rahner was talking about, just being there and hearing him lecture, this student went away feeling better about himself.

I don't know exactly what qualities it takes to be that kind of person. I know what it feels like to be around someone like that but I'm not sure how to become that kind of person myself. Warm acceptance, joy when you see someone, wisdom, and a focus on the positive in each person are many of the qualities you would find in such a one. Basically, they live love. I think that is one of the highest compliments you could give someone: that they live love. You can always tell a person like that because this woman was right, you just feel better when you're around them. I am deeply grateful God makes his presence known through souls such as these.

365-09 #324


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crystal Apple Awards

The red carpet extended down the sidewalk, the banners were hung on the walls, the nominees were on the way and the Elsinore Theatre was nearly sold out. Those of us who came to support our friends were cheering as each teacher was interviewed in front of the cameras. Excitement flowed through the air.

This was the 13th annual Crystal Apple Awards for the Salem-Keizer School District, a prestigious teaching award and I was accompanying my friend, Kim, to cheer for our friend, Adria, who was nominated for one of the awards. This year, there were 55 nominations and 12 awards were scheduled to be given out.

Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long. After the entertainment and scholarship portion of the evening, they started handing out the awards. Adria was the third one announced and her cheering section, which was quite decent I must say, gave her a standing ovation, hollering and clapping wildly. The emcee talked about her many good qualities and what she has done for the school. In her hands they placed a crystal apple and she held it out to us, to the staff, parents, and volunteers with whom she wanted to share it. We were and are, SO PROUD of her. It is well deserved, she is a wonderful teacher who not only goes the extra mile, but the extra five miles beyond that.

They quoted her in the paper as saying, "“This is something that’s bigger than me,” said Adria Farina-Miller, a teacher at Richmond Elementary School, shortly after winning — referencing Richmond’s rich history in the community. “It represents all the hard work of teachers, staff, students, community members and parents,” she said. “This is for them.”"

Congratulations Adria, I am SOOO happy for you. You are, truly, an inspirational teacher.

365-09 #323


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Are You a Sprinkler, Dunker, or Inward Fountain?

Are you a sprinkler, a dunker, or the inward fountain? From what I know of all of you, the people reading this span across the whole baptism belief spectrum. Some people believe, not necessarily anyone reading this, that you have to be completely submerged to be saved, some believe as long as you are baptized in some form, you're good to go. Others believe baptism is a good and important ritual but not necessarily needed. The Quakers believe the change in the heart and the way you live your life is the proclamation needed, not an outward act. Then you have the differing ideas about whether it is okay to baptise children or whether the sacrament should be solely reserved for adults. Each of these beliefs came to fruition as a reaction to another set of beliefs that had lost it's meaning. For example, George Fox was of the opinion that the Anglican church was rich in rituals but poor in meaning and in the inward relationship with God. Menno Simmons, who founded the Mennonite movement, believed that the ritual of baptizing a child was not a real baptism as the child is not of an age to make a full conscious decision for Christ.

This evening at church we discussed this topic. One of the reason I have enjoyed going to Ecclesia is it helps me hone my own beliefs. Having a multifaceted spirituality, it has been interesting for me to learn how to put these rivers of faith together into truth that honors all the distinct traditions I love. Being Christian, I grew up being taught the Bible stories on flannel boards in Sunday School, sang the Christian camp songs, and wiggled through services. I still hold these beliefs, some deeper, some looser, some expanded, but I hold them still. I loved growing up in that church and it was a good experience for me. They gave me a solid grounding that cannot be shaken. I can still go there and feel very comfortable and welcome.

I have also come to really appreciate some of the core beliefs of the Quaker tradition, that what goes on in the heart and how one's faith is lived out is more important than an outward ritual. I agree with them that we can interact and communicate with God directly, that we can hear from God every day. I didn't look at Quakerism and decide to believe those things, I had already wrestled with such ideas on my own and with my fellow students and professors, and then while studying Quakerism for a school project, saw they believed many of the same things I did. Only later did I realize how diverse Quaker beliefs really were.

Even before that though, I'd already learned I was Jewish and I learned I was Jewish AFTER I had started attending temple services because something in them called to a deep place in me. My Judaism is an inheritance I am proud to claim, indeed, it has filled in a lot of holes Christianity is lacking such as community and sticking up for each other, treasuring one's roots, reverencing God while daring to come close, and valuing Torah. I don't know whether my belief came first or if I was influenced by temple, but my emphasis tends to be on God as one. "Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheynu, Adonai ehad." (Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." I believe Jesus was God and came to bring us back to Himself, but instead of focusing on the divine trinity, I focus more on one God expressed in different ways. As we can never even come close to comprehending God, I am okay not "getting it".

So you can imagine baptism is a bit of a struggle for me. On one hand, I value both points of view on children and adults being baptized as a public declaration of belief. I also can see how it can be an outward ritual done for itself without the inward change of heart and how it is not necessary for salvation. In Judaism, as far as I yet know, there is no equivalent to baptism. Having a bat mitzvah or bar mitzvah at 13 years of age or later is more of a declaration that the bat mitzvah or bar mitzvah student has reached the age of maturity. They have studied Jewish history, beliefs, and are capable of leading the service in English and Hebrew and have the ability to handle adult responsibilities in the community.

Taking these traditions into account, listening to what my friends had to say, I have realized that there is no easy belief to hand out. Each community does what they do for God and I think God honors all of it when the heart is turned to Him/Her. Some people baptize their children as a formal acceptance into the community. Some only have adults who make that choice for themselves eligible for baptism. Some churches focus on the inward heart, and the Jews have a rich tradition of bringing a child into the adult faith world. Each belief has it's own strengths and weaknesses. There are pits they all fall into, things they can each teach to one another for the betterment of all.

So I would say whatever you do, do it based on a strong and open relationship with God. Where are hearts are at is first. If our hearts are there in love, our actions will be also. Any ceremony to symbolize that commitment, as important as it can be to some, is secondary.

365-09 #322

Labels: ,

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Week Begins

My 30th birthday is next Monday so the women's small group I am a part of celebrated tonight with cake and wine. (Carole knows me well, the wine was from where St. John of the Cross is from.) It was so much fun! We have been meeting for a year and a half now and these ladies have become dear to me as we've talked and shared our lives. Thank you Carole, Suzanne, Liz, and Jeannie for making it such a special time together, I am so grateful for you all.

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." -- Winston Churchill

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -- Abraham Lincoln

365-09 #321


Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Many of these people I go to church with. They are a fun group, as you can tell. :) (I was at the Pentacle's 55th anniversary party taking pictures.)

365-09 #320


The Enneagram - Type 4

Tomorrow night I am meeting with my small group about what we've learned from the enneagram. In addition to our time together, I've also studied the enneagram at the seminary with Katie Skurja. I remember the first time I read the chapter on fours, it was actually quite embarrassing. It was as if someone was pointing out all of my dark places. Yikes! It was good, though, too, it was nice to have some things explained and written out. It was nice to see it there before me in black and white. The authors also gave some very good practical steps toward healing and becoming a healthy human soul.

In preparation for our discussion, I pulled out my book and looked again at the chapter on fours. Looking over the quiz as if I was answering for who I am today, I realized I would probably no longer test as a four. You never actually switch numbers, I will always be a four, and in several deep ways, it is still absolutely "me", but many of the unhealthy traits no longer describe me, who I am now. I have grown in so many rich ways, little by little, step by step, I have healed, grown, and changed my ways. I am now far more forthright, "no's" are much easier to say and stick to, and I don't dwell on the negative; I much rather look at all the positive things in life. It's so nice to know I am a "healthy four".

A while back, a friend who has that gift of seeing things that cannot be seen, said I had fear within me but that the fear was just like the fear everyone else has, that my spirit was strong and healthy. Self-growth is hard and I know it will always be something I work on, but getting to this point, having the core, the soul of me healthy and happy, is one of the greatest gifts given me. On this sabbath day, I stand on the cliff looking out to where I've been, and shout to the sky thank you to you, God, for guiding me and for all the companions you gave on the way.

365-09 #319

Labels: ,

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Sweet, Treasured Time

What if this is as good as it gets? What if the life we are living right now is the best we'll ever have, ever experience? We spend a great deal of time in our lives telling ourselves things will be better when... (fill in the blank). For me, it is usually when this or that project is done such as uploading photographs, finishing a quilt, or when I'm done editing this or that book, then I'll have more free time. I've also told myself things will be easier financially when I make more money. Think about what you tell yourself. Do you ever use the terms, "when I'm older", "when the kids are older", "when I have another job", or "after we move"? I'm sure you have some variation of them somewhere in your psyche. Most of us do.

What is even harder is when we look at our lives and see what we think we are lacking. We look at what we've lost, what we've never had, and what we wish we had. We stare at these things, pretend we feel them in our hands, and are jealous of those who hold them in theirs. We see our own lives and think of them as inadequate, not enough, sorely lacking in what is essential.

For my main job, I do classified substituting with the local school district. I don't make much money and that can be difficult at times. I am trying to find a regular, full time job but quite frankly, with everything going on, it's hard to find the time. (Remember those "when" phrases?) There are things in my short sightedness I would like to change about my life. I say short sightedness because that is often the only way we can look at our lives. We don't see what we truly need, we don't see what is coming down the road. We don't see what is truly good, what is truly love in our lives.

Then yesterday as I was working, God asked me, "Do you think this is coincidence? Do you think this was by chance?" When he asked this, I was checking in books at a friend's library where I was filling in for her assistant, it is also a place I enjoy volunteering at when I'm not substituting at another school. The first assignment there was random, but, as we know, not so random. Since then, they request me whenever Kim is gone. I realized then just how random it wasn't that God has placed me there, that I choose to go. Like pulling one string on a web, me being there affects far more than I can imagine both in my life and in theirs.

The places we are at in our lives indeed are not random, they are part of a grand design we all are a part of. Life isn't in the end result, it's in the weaving together of our fabric. If I keep wishing for another day, I am going to miss the gifts in this one. I am going to miss the fact that God has placed me where he has for a reason. If I had a full time job right now, I wouldn't be able to help them and believe me, volunteering there adds so much to my life. Right now is a special time. Right now is a time I will cherish for years to come. The things I feel I am missing are missing for a reason, they make room for the blessings of today. And those blessings are abundant. It is a time full of growth, of seeing my passions come to fruition, of rich friendships, and fun times. It actually stuns me to think of all that I've been given. I don't want to wish away my time. I don't want to keep looking at tomorrow and miss today. It is a gift, a priceless, truly a treasure-gift. If life was a treasure map, the X would be underneath my feet. I just can't thank God enough for it. Today is a sweet time.

Is this as good as it gets? No, it gets better. But it is really great now and I am so happy I know that while I am still living it.

365-09 #318

Labels: ,

What is Truly Precious

The last few months I have been thinking how rich my life is with such beautiful friends. Life and what it is worth is not found in money or possessions but in love. As the musical Rent proclaims, "measure life in love."

Such thoughts have brought to mind those people in my own life who have seen both my great weaknesses and times I have been deeply broken as well as the times I shine. But perhaps it is in my brokenness when I shine. Perhaps it is those times that make them love us more deeply. Parts of me thinks of those relationships and wonders what they must think after seeing me in places like that. Having gone through those depths, some of these friends tend to be the quiet rivers of love I can feel but not name. They are the rocks I stand on but cannot see. Maybe they are like God, after all. Maybe our richest relationships have a sense of the mysterious about them that we cannot name and cannot see but whatever it is supports us and brings warmth to our hearts.

Perhaps the deepest depths of love is a Divine glow connecting souls, a depth only reached when we have descended into the murky mud and come up with what is truly precious in our hands.

365-09 #317

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monster Mama

One of my favorite parts of spending time at my friend's library is to hear her read stories to the kids. Today while I was substituting for her assistant, she read "Monster Mamma" to the first and second graders complete with voices and lots of color in the telling. I took my work out in easy hearing distance and listened as raptly as the kids. I loved the story, how powerful the boy in the story, Patrick Edward, felt and acted even when bullied. I loved how Monster Mama acted with the bullies and how things were all turned around to good in the end. It gave me a great picture of not letting my sense of self or the power inside be shaken even in the face of people trying to push me around. He was so confident, even fought back. I appreciated that. (And I LOVED her voice for Monster Mama!) At one point, the boy says, "Strength is for the wise, not the reckless [and foolish as Adria added]." Strength is something that comes from inside, it's not power to be abused or being able to throw my weight around, it's the strength to stand in the wind knowing who is holding me up. "It's the refusal to fall and the power to look beyond it all." as a song on my itunes says. Strength shines from our hearts, hearts that know what real power is.

How to wield power was a great reminder to hear today, any day actually, but in the form of a story like that, with Adria reading it with all her wonderful voices, well, it was very sweet time and left me absolutely delighted.

365-09 #316

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Silverton Friends Bazaar

My photography, matted poetry, and books are being sold this weekend at the Silverton Friends Bazaar in Silverton, Oregon, Friday and Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm. I will be there working a shift on Friday late afternoon, from 2:30-5 pm. I love how they set this up, particularly from an artist's point of view. You deliver the items and they set it up like one large fancy boutique but with great prices. You wander through and drink hot cider to Christmas music and then buy everything you want at one register. It's great and I don't need to be there all weekend. What an awesome deal!!! I've done it for several years now and I love going as well and checking out all the other crafts. This year, it's one great big slice of Christmas pie for me and I'm going to treasure every moment of it. It's really fun, you should check it out! Their address is:

Silverton Friends Church
229 Eureka Avenue
Silverton, OR 97381

If you want to check out what is for sale there, look at my website, www.SpiritWaterPublications.com. See you at the bazaar!

365-09 #315

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Aelred of Rievaulx - You Paint God for Me

This is for all those friends who's love warms me every day.

I recently heard my friend use a phrase that I love, "You paint God for me" and it has stayed with me ever since. Aelard of Rievaulx reminded me of this, how there are people in our lives that when we look in their eyes, we feel the touch of God embrace us. Last week I looked into a friend's smiling eyes and it felt like our souls touched, something deep that could not be seen. It can't be fully explained but there are some hands who reach much deeper than can ever be told. For me, these friends are like warm fires inside my heart. Whenever I feel cold from a frosty wind, I sit for a while by the crackling flames of my thoughts of these friends and warm my hands.

Though I have played around at the edges of Aelred's exploration into spiritual friendship, it hadn't occurred to me so plainly that loving a friend was loving God and that being loved by a friend was being loved by God. I liked this quote particularly well, "Therefore, not too steep or unnatural does the ascent appear from Christ, as the inspiration of the love by which we love our friend, to Christ, as the inspiration of the love by which we love our friend, to Christ giving himself to us as our Friend for us to love, so that charm may follow upon charm, sweetness upon sweetness, and affection upon affection." I like the last part especially as it illustrates for me what a friendship is like as it grows and deepens. It has been quite some time since I began to believe that such friendships are the most precious things to have in life. Such friends hold the paint brushes making wide strokes the color of love in our lives.

365-09 #314

Labels: ,

Monday, November 2, 2009

Live the Question

I went to two stores tonight and bought many things on my Africa shopping list including vitamins, a lock, various bathroom travel bottles, antiseptic ointment, stuff like that. I feel quite a bit more prepared than I did before. The safari is set, I've reserved my space at the hostel, and a local Friend from Nairobi is willing to take me into the Kibera slum, the densest slum in all of Africa. It will be eye opening to say the very least. I even got the tevas I ordered in the mail today.

One piece of good news for all of you is that the whole delegation might be staying at the hostel I will be at before my safari. They will all come in after I get back and this lovely hostel has computers I can get on and use the internet so you will be able to read how the trip to Nairobi went, what it is like in the slums, and what it was like for me on the safari. I don't know what access I'll have after that, but at least in Nairobi, I'll be able to let you know I'm alive and well.

My life is changing right now and I don't know what it's changing into. It's nerve wracking and I don't particularly like it. But as one student observed today, change does come and we have no choice in the matter. But, as I pointed out to him, we do have a choice in how we react to it. We have a choice to despair or to look at it all as a new adventure. There are so many questions I have right now and few answers. As Rilke says, I'm just going to have to live the question.

365-09 #313

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jesus Gets Me There

On my way back from my aunt's house, I wanted to stop in Portland for a meeting. I had written out the directions on a post-it note but couldn't find where I had put it. So here I am, on I-5, unable to call anyone because it's illegal to use your cell phone while driving in Washington, and trying to remember the directions I'd written. As soon as I cross the Columbia River which divides Oregon and Washington, I call my friend, Julie, who gets into my e-mail and finds the address I had sent myself. On the phone with her, she gives me the directions to where I need to go but I get very lost anyway. Still on the phone, we try to figure out where I am at and where I need to go. Several times of turning around, the car dying, and several choice words later, we know I am nearby where I need to go. At the top of my frustration level, she gives me the number of where I need to be and I call them. My friend, who is hosting the meeting, picks up the phone and I try to relay to her where I am at. While I put her on hold for a moment to accept a substitute request call, she goes outside where I look up to see her crouched on the sidewalk waving at me. She tries to tell me where to go to park and I invite her into the car which she accepts. From there it is simply a turn around the corner and I park on the street. Relieved, we walk to her house together and she welcomes me inside where smiling faces are waiting.

I was thinking about the experience on the way home and thought that being on the phone with my friend was a lot like living under the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. You know where you are supposed to be but still feel rather lost and make a lot of wrong turns trying to get there. Then Jesus comes along side us, gets in the car with us, and no longer being alone, brings us right home, exactly where we need to be, with smiling faces welcoming us when we get there. And where is "there"? "There" is a life lived free and let me tell you, it is so much easier finding your way there when you listen to someone who has been there before.

365-09 #312