Micah 6:8

"...do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rick to the Rescue

For the last several weeks I've been feeling like I've hit a brick wall. I'm worn out from trying to do too much for too long and it's catching up with me. I've been dropping out of life a little bit, but Rick has been taking everything on himself. Despite starting back to law school a couple weeks ago he is also doing almost everything that we need to get done for the Bryan House Auction and for coordinating the renovation of an apartment that needs to be handicapped accesible by Monday. Plus he is still working on East Aurora project stuff with Kirsten and doing his homework. I don't know how he does it. I think he kind of likes our life like this. I'd prefer it to be a little more managable, but that is not likely to happen anytime soon. There will be no fun for us this weekend. Hopefuly we get it all the renovation done by Monday. Where did the summer go?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Comfort Food

Whenever I find myself in a place of doubt and fear, I reach for my favorite comfort food, the writings of Madeleine L'Engle. Yesterday I read her Newberry Honor book, "A Ring of Endless Light" for probably the twentieth time or so. Maybe more. Something about her books help me reach out for God again when I feel myself shrinking back into fear and self pity and doubt. Her books have been a great source of hope and strength for me as long as I can remember. I don't know which teacher first put "A Wrinkle in Time" in my hands, but I am so grateful. I long to write books like this. Books that help restore and refresh readers. Books that remind us how big and how small the universe is. Books that comfort and challenge at the same time. She is definitely my hero and my role model. A Spiritual giant. A mentor. And though we've never met, she feels like a friend. Thank God for Madeleine L'Engle. Here is the poem by Henry Vaughan from which she derives the title of the book:
I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright,
And round beneath it, Time, hours, days, years
Driven by spheres
Like a vast shadow moved, in which the world
And all her train were hurled.
There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness: as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
See not all clear.
O for that Night, where I in him
Might live invisible and dim!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Music in Pader

I'm missing the music of Africa and the day we spent in a little transit camp for displaced people in Pader Northern Uganda enjoying music and friendship. This is just a sample.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Third grade journal

I found my third grade journal in the basement today. Here is my entry for December 10th, 1984 with the title: If you Could Rule the World, What Would You Do?

I would lower taxes and help the poor. I would stop any wars or battles. I would move some things in the White House.

Here's Janauary 23rd, 1985 with the title: If I Were President.

If I were president of the US I'd help the poor and start programs for sick people.

I think these are still be my answers to those questions : ) I didn't realize that God had this stuff on my heart at such a young age.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to School

Today is the first day of Rick's last year of law school. I have been dreading this day a little bit. It's been nice having so much time together this summer, but that is about to end for awhile. Even though the last year of law school is supposed to be the easiest, I have a feeling that this year will actually be the hardest one we've faced so far. Bryan House will soon be in full swing with a thousand details that need our attention, and Rick is becoming more and more engaged in the Lighthouse project for East Aurora, which is great, but will also take time. I thought last year was tough, but this year we have even more to manage. Not to mention that some of our closest refugee friends are moving away and we're feeling kind of lonely just thinking about it. This year will be a test of our endurance and patience. Today marks the start of the marathon. I hope I have what it takes to finish.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama Moments in Kenya

It came as no surprise to us that every where we went in Africa this summer, people were talking about Barack Obama. The t-shirts and stickers and buttons we brought to give out as gifts to our friends ran out quickly. There is something very powerful and intoxicating in the idea that a man whose father grew-up herding sheep in Kenya is now a canidate for President of the United States. But behind all the public cheering and hoopla, in private our friends kept asking us if we really thought Americans would elect a black man for President. Their joy and hope seemed mixed with a kind of careful skepticism, as if they were trying to protect themselves from the danger of believing in this amazing leap toward equality only to find that things have not really changed much at all. I hope the skepticism of my Kenyan friends will prove to be unfounded in November. One day I want to tell my grand children about the day the US elected it's first black President and I want them to grow-up in an America where they will find it surprising that there ever was a time in history when that possibility was in question.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are We Going to Have Barbeque on the Lawn of the White House?

What would you do if this happened to you:

Today in the parking lot of the North Aurora Target, Rick was putting his bags in the car when an older woman sitting in a car near him noticed the OBAMA bumper sticker on our Saturn. As Rick was returning his cart to the cart coral the woman yelled after him, "Are we going to have barbeque on the lawn of the White House?"

The woman's tone was a little strange, but Rick assumed that she was an Obama supporter talking about how we would celebrate if he wins the election in November. Rick said, "I sure hope so," and kept pushing his cart, but the woman yelled after him again. This time her tone was even more strange and intense. "No, think about it," she said. "Are we going to have barbeque at the White House."

Rick stopped, not quite believing what the woman was insinuating. "Is that a racial comment?" he asked. The woman raised her eyebrows as if to affirm what she wouldn't quite say out loud. Rick shot her a disapprovingly look and walked away knowing there would probably be no reasonable conversation if he continued.

I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I feel a little shocked. Quiet, subtle racism is everywhere. We see it all the time, but it isn't often that we bump up against the blatant and overt kind in our daily lives. The scars of racial division are deep and wide and ugly in America. This is just one of the reasons I long for diverse neighborhoods, schools, and especially churches. I feel sorry for a woman like this who has obviously never had a loving friendship with a black person. (Anyone who had would never say something like that.)

I don't know if we'll have Barbeque on the lawn of the White House. Maybe we'll have arugula salad instead. In any case I hope we have a fair and decent election free from ugliness and ignorance of racism.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What love looks like in public.

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public." -- Cornel West

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Writing on the Wall

These are just a few examples of the words we saw written on the walls of schools we visited in Northern Uganda. We literally saw "the writing on the wall." I hope we never forget it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Discovery

Last weekend Rick and I took five Somali kids (Lulay, Yusuf, Dollar, Musa, & Baby Rick) to Minnesota to visit my family and go swimming in the lake. It was pretty obvious from the first minute we walked into the house that my one and half year old nephew, Royce, had never really been around black kids before. It was really fun to watch him discover them. These pictures don't do the moment justice at all, but Royce spent the evening running back and forth between the kids touching their skin and hair and hugging and kissing them. And just sitting close. There was pure joy on his face as he discovered the differences in his new friends. It was such a privlege to see a child who has not been tainted with anyone's prejudice or the images on tv or years of living separated, just have a beautiful and natural first encounter with difference. I hope that as Royce grows up in a fairly homogenous place, that he will get the opportunity to have some authentic friendships with kids from different ethnic backgrounds. His heart is ready for it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beautiful Faces

These are the faces of children in Northern Uganda. Aren't they beautiful? Stunning, really. It's hard to imagine how the European colonialists could have seen anything but bright shining beauty and potential when they "discovered" Africa. But instead their blind eyes saw inferior people groups to be parented and controlled for their own economic advantage. They left their mark, not only on the land, but on the heart and soul of Africa and her people. But of course they are not the only ones. Over and over again the continent has been raped by men lusting after power and money and prestige. And as the proverb says, "When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

When will Africa find some rest? Rest from war. Rest from the abduction of her children. Rest from poverty. Rest from disease. Rest from broken hearts and broken promises.

There are moments walking in Africa when you have to wonder if what you are seeing is even real. When you wonder how such incredible suffering could be possible. You wonder how anyone there finds the strength to smile, move, breathe, eat, love. And you feel ashamed. Ashamed of the obscene number of things you own. Ashamed of the invisible cloud of privilege that follows you around where ever you go. And at the same time there is a part of you that feels jealous of what they have. Jealous of the deep well of joy that simplicity has made accessible to them...a well that you cannot seem to reach at home. Jealous of the movement of the Spirit among them that makes Jesus more present than you have ever felt him before.

It's hard to move back into life again here. The only way to do it successfully is to forget Africa exists, and I don't want to ever do that. So I guess I'm in for more days of struggle and confusion. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be.