One foolish act

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

Candidates, mind your underwear

Indiana has a primary today and I got my first chance to vote in my home state since college.

I am glad I am not a Republican. The three Republican Senate candidates are apparently competing for biggest hater and most Trumpier-than-Trump. It is not a pretty sight.

Some of my fellow liberals are planning to take a Republican ballot and vote for the Biggest Loser, the one most likely to be defeated in November by our middle-of-the-road Democratic incumbent, Joe Donnelly. I’d say that’s waaay too clever and scheme-y to work. Besides, which one would you choose?

When it came to the key race on the Democratic side, candidates for Congressional District 2 to replace current Tea Partier Jackie Walorski, I found myself a last-minute Undecided. I am never Undecided. But I was influenced by a commercial, of all things. Continue reading

What I don’t write about

I haven’t posted for a while and I don’t really know why. Sometimes I think it’s because my life is very miscellaneous right now, too many different things going on, no one thing predominant.

Accompanying a close friend in a serious health crisis.

Preparing for another trip to Congo.

Helping plan and lead Lenten worship services. Continue reading

Food and creed on a snowy day

IMG_1088I keep thinking I want to write something profound, theological almost, but I am not up to it. Instead I meditate. 45 minutes this morning, no problem. And I think about diet and plan carefully for a food-shopping excursion during a brief break in the frigid, snowy weather. It wasn’t really a break but Vic had to go out for a doctor’s appointment so I went along and went around the corner to the supermarket and bought at least 10 meals worth of vegan food. Beans and more beans, greens and more greens. Continue reading

Our latest Best Flix List

We watch lots of movies at home and every year we rate them and send our list of favorites in a year-end letter to friends. Last year I didn’t write a year-end letter and this year we didn’t watch as many movies. So I decided to combine our list for the two years. Oh, and because I write this blog I’m thinking of giving up the Christmas letter altogether. So, friends near and far, this is for you.

The Best Movies Vic and Nancy Watched at Home in 2016–17
Continue reading

#HimToo?

Today one of my favorite senators resigned in the face of charges of sexual harassment. Pinching, butt- and breast-squeezing, forced smooching–moves familiar to most women. Not rape, for sure. Not seduction of teenagers. Just opportunistic grabbing. “He was quick,” said one recipient of Al Franken’s unwanted attentions. “He knew what he was doing.”

Did he know what he was doing? Continue reading

Favorite reads, 2017

I just finished reading The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year: history, culture, great characters, interesting ideas, good writing–a page-turner set in the 17th century London Portuguese Jewish community and current cutthroat academia. I like books that take me places.

It didn’t make it to the NY Times 100 Notable Books for 2017. The Times reviewers seem to prefer edgier fiction and memoirs. “Disturbing” is their favorite descriptor. Continue reading

Nevertheless, joy persisted

Pictures pop up from a year ago. People are sitting around a table at an open-air restaurant on a busy street in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They are waiting for pizza. It is my birthday, but no one knows that until I tell them. The picture is taken before I tell them, and they are looking subdued. As I recall, telling them about my birthday, reluctant as I had been to do so, livened things up and it became a party. Continue reading

Calling Grandmothers

One of the first things I decided to do after the 2016 election was to stop coloring my hair. In the months that followed, the light brown I’d adopted for the past 20 years, something close to the color I was born with, gave way to snowy white. I am delighted with my new look, the result of genes inherited from my white-haired father and grandparents.

I told friends that I’d been waiting to stop coloring my hair till I was pretty sure it was growing out all white rather than gray. But there were deeper reasons for choosing to go white at that particular time, even though I couldn’t articulate them at first. Continue reading

Extravagant beauty

With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love. Continue reading