Thursday, September 13, 2007
Meditations on Order, Chaos, and Two Transition Mites
Switzerland: punctual, spotless, quiet, pristine views, cold snow, flowerboxes bursting, cows chiming, abundance, flawless plumbing, anonymity, peace.
Uganda: the chaos of real life, smiles, mounds of garbage, infestations at all levels of creeping creatures, hunger, struggle, jolting, unpredictable, color, demand.
It would not be easy to find two places upon this earth with sharper contrast. Though in both we sit perched on the foothills of famous snow-capped mountain ranges . . . That’s about where the similarity ends. Yet we can slip from one to the other in a mere ten hours or so of flying, less than a day, and the transition leaves me reeling. Were the walls of our house always this spotted with grime, our floors this gritty? Transitioning back and forth with any frequency takes a huge emotional toll, one that never becomes negligible. Deep breath, yes, that is soot pouring out of the fridge which needs the chimney cleaned and re-lit so that two months of meat does not spoil. Yes, that was a scorpion Jack gallantly killed for his new-to-Africa teachers in the classroom today. Yes, the humidity has warped a picture frame until it fell off the wall and broke. This is no alpine meadow, it is a jungle. This morning I awoke early, and sat in the middle of mounds of dirty clothes and unwashed vegetables and muddy shoes and thought: how many more times can I do this? It’s too much to ask, too hard.
I found my place in Luke, chapter 21. The widow’s two mites. This is a story that has in the past, always left me feeling a bit guilty, not connected. Who am I to complain when people around me cheerfully give and share out of their poverty? Convicting. But this morning the Spirit gave me another view. Transition is my two mites. It looks like nothing to my Ugandan friends and neighbors. What’s so hard about living in a house with TWO bedrooms and a cement floor, what’s so hard about buying boxes and boxes of food, what’s so hard about driving over the mountains in our own car? But to me, it is hard. It takes every ounce of strength of will to enter into this grungy mess once again, to organize this chaos of groceries and trunks, to concentrate and respond in a foreign language. And God was saying: this is your sacrificial offering, and I see it, and I know it is valuable, it is more than you can afford. Transition is my mite, and when I give it again and again, the last I have, God provides the strength to keep going.