“We were together,- I forget the rest.” (Walt Whitman)
I think of this saying often, it sits in a 4x 6 frame on our chaotic kitchen countertop, a silent reminder in the busyness, in the comings and goings, in the packing of lunches and the preparation of dinner, In the ‘out the door’ whirlwind going from one place to another, to remember presence.
I was with you,- nothing else really mattered. And whether it is grey hair and growing wisdom, or kids growing up too fast, family far away, or dear friends, there is a renewed reality of wanting to slow things down, there is an understanding that the sweetest of memories are grounded in the presence of experiencing life with others.
I think of Walt’s phrase and how it can be applied to worship. Where everything melts away in the Presence of One whose beauty startles, whose wonder catches and where Grace and Mercy are so tangibly offered if one but sees that it is present.
I wish my vision was always able to see past the furnishings of the moment and onto the people who inhabit my heart, and onto the One who breathes life and meaning into each of these moments.
Confessions There has been so much I have utterly failed at keeping up with tracking these last few journeys of life with the Callaghans. Not that life is of any particular terrible interest. Adventures outside of the African experience seems extraordinarily dull at times. The liveliest tale was when a coyote skull ended up on our front porch. We all sat looking at the artifact with quite the nostalgic fondness, sharing in this “African moment” a little sad that wildlife on our porch is no longer an ordinary event now that we have returned from living in the African bush. And although during the long winter and other moments of reflection when we feel the furthest on the globe from our dear African brothers and sisters, we reflect we are privileged to continue in our journey to help with the TB patients still and with the occasional health care crisis. Last month we were able to help orchestrate the purchase of famine relief food that was distributed through Kurungu Church. Little helps, and we feel so privileged and blessed to be afforded opportunity to continue to be apart of the work that continues on with the Samburu.
Some Pictures from the Famine Feeding
CAMP SOAR (support and outreach for African and refugees)
Our first list has come in for camp, it contains the names of kids currently signed up. I scanned through the list, my tongue practicing the ever so familiar sounds of Swahili words and African names. Reading the details, “these families all less than 2 years in Canada”, These families not able to afford the $25 fee, can they go anyway… These children will attend if you can find halal hotdogs?…My tongue remembers the feel of Swahili, my accent ready to pronounce the very African sounding names…. There are still many pieces and details of camp yet to fall into place and yet I can’t help feeling that something amazing is about to happen.
I wake up in a cold sweat thinking how will I manage enacting both the role of nurse and cook simultaneously. I do mental calculations of how many cookies do we need? 2 x 60 (120 cookies for one snack x 7 days, is like over a thousand cookies,- I better get baking… We take on the role of camp directors with enthusiasm which perhaps makes up for the fact that we are learning as we go. Aren’t those the best kind of adventures,- enough naivety and faith to keep moving without the doubts that come from details, experience and knowledge…. What did I sign up for again!” Good thing we can’t see too far in the future, and rely on a Great God who can meet our needs
Jay is in the throes of recruiting staff and volunteers, sorting out camp registrations, ordering equipment and supplies and setting up the schedule.
In other news….We minister to the Samburu through health projects as able, we are actively pursuing partnerships with and for Africans in Nova Scotia, we encourage connection and fellowship with African University students and of course are working on building rapport with new African refugees through creating opportunities for a camp experience for children and youth… but this next opportunity was not quite a planned one.
I wear 2 samburu metal bracelets,- one on my wrist and one on my ankle. I was asked the other day if they are electronic surveillance shackles. Which made me smile,- not such a ridiculous question when you work in the prison system. Keeping my registration as NP has led me to this rather unexpected place. My internal conversation sounds more like, “Really, God,- I know nothing about prison or detention. I had to ask what a ‘shank’ is. (I cited the fact that I don’t have Netflix as the reason for my ignorance). What do I know, what can I offer?” And yet, He stretches me to trust and move forward.
I reflect that I started the year asking to live with a lens of light and love and feel amused at times, overwhelmed, hopeful and even despairing at other moments when I reflect on these last few months and the opportunity with work in the detention centre. Because when you read the files, light and love seems to be the last things that you will find in the stories of these youth. In fact you dwell in the narrative of darkness and despair. I soak up the reality of the tremendous suffering and trauma, conflict, violence and hurt that these youth have faced who are both offenders and victims. And wonder is there room for anything else in these stories… hope, love, acceptance, redemption, restoration… But yet, isn’t there is always a glimmer of Life,- I have to believe that He exists in the midst of darkness, for there would be no darkness without the existence of light. I am not new to the close observation of suffering,- famine, war, violence, but I am positioned in a new way to look at suffering of a new kind and it is a hard study, and even harder to ask the questions that arise, how could one life hold so much sorrow. And what am I to do about it. I look at the agenda for an “education day”I am required to attend this week. One of the seminars is on the needs of Africans within the Criminal Justice System,- I sometimes wonder what He is doing, and yet He provides just enough clarity and conviction to keep moving through the doors open into the Wide spaces of His grace.
Thanks for your prayers and giving. In deep gratitude for your partnership.
Some family updates and grad photos to come!