Monday, April 6, 2009

Third State of the Sarah: Inhale the Dust

I've been writing a lot, more than I ever have before in my life. It's hard. For creative writing, I need at least 22 pages ready for submission for publication. So I've been trying to write things that matter, and things that are true. And that's really very hard to do.

Especially when in the meantime you're in Uganda hanging out with your momma and going to an orphanage and playing Frisbee with your friend who almost always can make you laugh when you're sad and wondering about what is true anyways who is Christ and how do I follow him and realizing you still don't really know how to love and attempting to fill out financial aid forms so that you can go back to school and dreaming about your future and listening to your friend talk about the guy she's freaked out about because she really likes him (actually, do that one two times! :D) and looking for a job back home and trying to run somewhat regularly and shower somewhat more regularly.

But I've been having this ongoing conversation with several people now, about how hard isn't necessarily bad. Doing all these things is hard. But…it's really good trying.


I've been thinking a lot about confrontation and reconciliation. We read Nouwen's Compassion a while ago, and we're reading this Lee Camp Mere Discipleship non-violent, Walter Wink quoting book now. And so there's a lot of talk about peace. Which…I mean, when you consider how burdened I was thinking about war and peace and reconciliation in December, it's insane how much the curriculum here brings it up. I really was meant to be here. But anyways Nouwen talks about how, if you're being truly compassionate, sometimes that demands confrontation. Gandhi talks about truth-force, having truth come up against power to have justice. In the Bible, Ephesians 4, it talks about maturity being when the body speaks the truth with love. Confrontation scares me. But if you want real shalom peace of just relationships, and you want real reconciliation where there's been repentance for how people have wronged each other, there's got to be confrontation. And I've been thinking about what I might need to confront back home in others and in myself. And I'm scared, cuz I'm a bit of a coward.


I've realized I've been asking the same basic question since like junior year of high school. Coming back from YUGO Mexico missions trip my junior year we were listening to Casting Crowns. The song If we are the body, why aren't our hands reaching….basically, why aren't we loving. And the song that's been stuck in my head this semester's Black Eyed Peas Where is the Love? I'm not sure about this, but I wonder if I've been asking the question without seeking out love enough in my own life heart actions words. If I've been asking it too much as I look out at the world, and not enough when I look at myself. Cuz myself…well, can I change myself? I think if change is going to happen it needs to start with myself. So I think the state of the Sarah, in sum, is searching for the love. To bad love doesn't start with S. That would've been an awesome sentence.

Two girls fell in love with boys here. That might be overstating it. But I don't think it is. Our program director, Mark, had a baby girl, Rachel. Our program assistant director, Brooke, is about eight months pregnant right now. She and her Ugandan husband are really really cute together. All the girls aww. It's lovely.


I didn't go on the safari or water rafting. I didn't have particular plans instead, either time. Both times I ended up at orphanages.  The first time, it was after meeting Janai. This past Saturday it was going with some of the students to a small orphanage begun by people from Oregon but run by Ugandans. I will tell you about this place and those people, but not here, not now. They need more space and time than I have right now.


Yesterday, I sat out on the lawn for over an hour with Lilyannie and her two little friends. They sang songs and danced and said, "Mzungu, see me!" and "Sarah, see me!" I spent an hour watching them, and I still wonder if I've really seen them. But they're beautiful, you must know this.


There was some reading for class today that hit me in the face, talking about mission as pilgrimage: "pilgrims who feel the dust under their feet and come to know the places where they sojourn. The problem with the world is not that we do not see others. We do….But to feel the gifts and the needs of the world-that means learning to journey…It takes time just to learn the history, for example, of Gulu in northern Uganda, to learn what is happening there. But when we take time for that, it begins to transform the pilgrim. You have learned the names of people and places, these far-flung places with names very difficult to pronounce. You have inhaled the dust. Mission as pilgrimage is about that transformation. It's not about fixing northern Uganda. You're not going to fix northern Uganda! It's not even about partnering with "northern Uganda." How can you partner with all of northern Uganda? Where do you begin? Instead the pilgrim begins to know, to feel, that northern Uganda, with a ll its tragedy and terror, is a Christian story. That it is not just their story, but that it is our story." – "From Tower-Dwellers to Travelers" in Christianity Today (8-26-2008) by Ugandan-born theologian Emmanuel Katongole

It's not about selling Christ, but about being Christ, being with people where they are, loving them. It isn't about you saving them but about Christ saving both of you.

I want to inhale the dust of this world. Not in an exotic, adventure kind of way. But in a compassionate, suffering-with-you loving you caring about you knowing your name kind of way. It's raining right now, and I want that mud under my feet, in a dirty, muddy, all of our feet need Jesus' cleaning kind of way.

No comments:

Post a Comment