Everybody has lost something in this pandemic.
If we weigh our losses against others’, some of us could easily discount our individual losses, especially if we have been taught to count our blessings. I am alive, I am well, I have enough to eat, I have friends and family and the means to communicate with them, and I am financially secure. And it is spring. So why am I feeling sad today?
The universal experience of loss gives us an unprecedented opportunity to explore the nature of loss and mourn together. Okay, let’s have a cry now. Or a scream. Or a community howl. Or a banging of pots on porches. For everything we have lost.
Name your losses. I dare you. Think of at least one thing that you will probably never get back, even when this is over. Continue reading
With one of my literacy teachers (the tall one) and three of her students.
I recently realized that life in my 70s has a guiding question that could have come straight from Marie Kondo, the tidy-up guru, though I have never watched a single one of her TV shows or videos and my house still retains pockets of clutter.
In fact, I apply the question, “Does it bring you joy?”, more to my life as a whole than to my dwelling and possessions, though I make sporadic efforts to apply it there, too. I use it to tidy up my life, so to speak, to focus on the things I really want to do.
It has not been an easy question for me to answer. One reason that it guides me now is that my answers to it have evolved over the years and shown up in surprising ways that I would not have guessed in earlier times. Continue reading
I just finished a huge project, editing a memoir and taking it all the way through the self-publishing process. It is not my book. It is the memoir of a remarkable 91-year-old former missionary to Congo, Martini Reimer Janz. Stargazer’s Children is available—today!—on Amazon. It was a labor of love all around. Continue reading
I am just back from a 3-day Wisdom School on the Law of Three and I am seeing triangles everywhere.
Law of Three, in the Wisdom tradition of Christianity, is the theory that the most basic, most pervasive dynamic of life is a triangular dance among three kinds of forces: FIRST FORCE– affirming (positive, active); SECOND FORCE—denying (negative, passive); and THIRD FORCE—reconciling (neutralizing, transforming, catalyzing … etc.). The first two forces may end up in opposition but Third Force is present (though hidden) in the stalemate, and when it comes into play, change happens. Something new arises. Still, all three forces are necessary for that to happen.
This waltz is how things evolve on every level, from the subatomic to the universal. It is in the very nature of God (think Trinity as process more than persons). It operates at the level of the individual human psyche and in our interactions with each other. Continue reading
Several stories stick with me from my August trip to Congo. I didn’t write during the trip; there was just too much going on and not much solitude. So, like I do with a detailed dream of which I only remember a snippet, I will honor a few stories that have stayed with me. Here is one.
Three fellow travelers and I spent a full week in the dusty outback city of Tshikapa, in Western Kasai province, where the fourth teacher-training program, sponsored by the Mennonite women of Congo and Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, was being held. Sixty-one people–many of them educators and pastors–were following an intensive course in teaching illiterate adults to read and write.
It was marvelous. It was rigorous. It went well.
Tshikapa is the provincial capital of the region that has suffered the most recent, excruciating violence in that country. Continue reading
I have never been this ready to go on a trip so far in advance. One full day to go and my bags are packed, the last laundry is done, the house is clean. I even sat down with my husband this noon and helped him go over meal plans during my absence. My iPhone is loaded with escapist reading for long plane rides. I just checked us in online with Air France. Continue reading
A blogger friend asked his teenage grandson, just back from 6 weeks in China and a veteran of other international adventures, what made him such a good candidate for future studies in international relations.
“I like people and accept them,” Sam replied. “I like to encounter ideas. I enjoy new foods. It’s fun to solve travel puzzles.”
Sam is a teenager after my own heart. Right now, as I prepare for my next sally into the heart of Africa accompanied by three friends, it is the “travel puzzles” that are on my mind. Continue reading
A few days ago I received a follow-up report from some of the adult-literacy teachers trained last spring in Mbuji-Mayi, Congo. Attached were some fuzzy photos, including these.
My first response was to feel overwhelmed, even at a safe distance, thousands of miles away. Continue reading
Recently I saw a video clip of Ellen DeGeneris receiving a multimillion-dollar contribution from Ashton Kutcher for her school in Africa. It was subsidized by a company that specializes in quick and easy global money transfers, and so to give the money Kutcher just gave his smartphone to Ellen and told her to push the button she saw onscreen. She did, and presumably the millions flowed instantly and painlessly into the right bank account.
It’s not so easy for us ordinary folks either to drum up millions or, heaven forbid, send it to Africa. Continue reading
Reflections during the adult literacy teacher training in Mbuji Mayi, DR Congo, April 2–8, 2018
Here is how you get your baggage at Mbuji Mayi. Passengers and guys whom you can hire to retrieve baggage crowd on one side of a low platform and the baggage is carried in through a door on the other side and stacked in a holding area while an agent examines each tag and calls a name. Or number. I can’t get close enough to tell. Continue reading