November 2012


“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott

Two weeks ago we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I woke up thinking of my Uncle S. I went to church thinking of him, cried, went home and thought of him some more. Uncle S was a veteran of Vietnam, an experience that contributed to his untimely and ugly death in 2006.

He was also one of those people who had never not been there – a constant through my childhood and into my grown up life. He had no children. He had two nieces and a nephew and for my brother, sister and me, he was our beloved uncle. He was gentle, kind, patient and encouraging. He always listened, no matter how inane our chatter or obnoxious our questions. He treated everything we had to say as if it was important and deserved thought (even if it didn’t).

His home in the mountains was always open to us: for family breaks, holidays, and when we needed to get away on our own. He dared us to dip into the icy water of the creek that ran through his property (and paid handsomely when we took him up on the dare), led us on off-trail hikes in search of old gold mines, and taught us how to map the stars and spot satellites moving across the night sky. I can still see his slow smile and hear his easy drawl.

So when he died, while it wasn’t wholly unexpected, it was devastating. It was and is painful. But I learned something through his death, as I watched as one of the solid looking pillars that I thought held my life together crumbled and disappeared. Although I could no longer see it, he was still there. None of the love he poured into me and into my life over thirty years went anywhere. It was still there, and so was he.

And the pain never goes away. I’m not even sure it diminishes. But even so, something else increases. I know I have a choice to make: to be thankful for what I’ve been given, or to embrace bitterness over what will not be. In choosing thankfulness, I also choose the pain – “the broken heart that doesn’t seal back up”. I also choose the joy of memory and of faith – of being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see.

I am thankful for my past. I am thankful for the love I’ve known – bound as it is to pain. I am thankful for friends who love me and for a church that supports me. I am thankful for the shipwrecks that have deposited me on unexpected shores and sent me down new paths. I am thankful for my work and those I know through my work, which constantly remind me to keep my own struggles and sorrows in perspective.

I’m so thankful for Uncle S. I am so thankful for all the others who I have loved who have gone on before me but who I will see again. I am thankful for a Maker who gave His life to give me a hope and a future.

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A source of endless frustration to me in my own work is how often the international community tends to see things as all or nothing: i.e. either there is improvement in a particular country or there is deterioration. The two apparently can’t exist at the same time in the same country. In reality, and as Oddny points out eloquently, progress in some areas can accompany severe setbacks in others and this is precisely what is happening in Burma. Please consider at least praying for, and possibly supporting this outreach to some of the forgotten peoples of Burma.

oddnygumaer.com

Have you ever felt like life is just not fair? Of course you have. Who hasn’t.

This is not fair:

Yesterday I talked to our friend and staff member who is in an area of Burma that most don’t dare to go to right now. It is Arakan state. For the past months the area has erupted in terrible violence. Some people say it is a religious and ethnic conflict. I think it is the result of decades of oppression, poverty and suffering among a people who are not allowed citizenship although they have lived in the country for hundreds of years. The people group is called the Rohingya.

I may be writing some more about the Rohingya in the days to come. But yesterday I heard this story that moved my heart. It was the story of Chakin (not his real name) who is 8. His village was attacked and…

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I am excited that a friend of mine from Egypt has her own blog now and wanted to share this article she wrote. And for the record, she reports, in spite of everything, that she’s still optimistic. Please keep praying for Egypt and for our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Thoughts & Reflections

27- January- 2011
Special to Canadian Mennonite
I am optimistic! That is what I tell myself from time to time, but it seems sometimes that my brother is the only one who shares this optimism with me. What is happening in Egypt does not herald anything good for the moment, but, in my opinion, it is very promising for the future.

For now, it is very clear to everyone that there is much chaos. Robberies have increased and thugs are the heroes of the daily stories. They break into and seize houses, kidnap women, children and girls, and rape them. Traffic is not organized and there are many accidents because of high speed. There is lack of security, which makes everybody feel worried and uncomfortable. The police have lost the respect of the people.

I am optimistic, however, because now I can see that people have started to rethink the…

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Here is one of the big reasons: Kenia Denis