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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The thing about edges . . .

. . . Is that while standing on them, one is perfectly safe, but the perceived drop to disaster is very real.

Which may be why God likes to take our path along the ledge.

For instance, yesterday morning the UPDF began a training exercise that involved intermittent large artillery which we could hear in the distance.  The main barracks is about 15 km by road from us, though with mountains reflecting sound and our house being on a rise it sounds closer.  This practice is good, in reality, part of that solid rock where we now stand, protected.  But it started literally one minute after I hung up the phone with Scott who was from that moment on unreachable, en route to Sudan.  And in the early morning, the sonic booms of distant guns were for me a peek over the precipice, a gut-tightening recall of times now long past when we did not have a prepared military and when rebels could make forays across the border at will.  I am not falling, I’m standing on the path.  But the view into the Fall is dizzying.  

This is similar to the case of the little boy who died last week, whose blood and tissue samples are now being processed by the CDC.  The real danger of this being a viral hemorrhagic fever is almost nil; follow-up in his village has assured us that no one else is sick.  Again, we are standing securely, but the events of the last year make the view over the edge steeper and more frightening than it would have been.

So it is no surprise, in this context, that just after daylight this morning there was yelling, running, commotion and cries a few houses up the road from me . . . No, no rebels, no real danger, just a goat thief.  By the time I got there most people were laughing, perhaps to cover their anxiety.  The goat had been recovered but the thief got away.  

And though I am distressed by the slowness of UNICEF to get milk to our malnourished kids (18 of 29 inpatients now with severe acute malnutrition, little signposts of no rain and rising food prices), when I plead on the phone I’m looking over the edge and feeling faint, instead of noticing that we do still have enough for another two weeks, and kind supporters who I know will rise to the occasion if nothing happens by then.

A wise friend asked me last night to reflect on the timing.  When I am here alone, my sense of the edge is more menacing, my reserve more strained.  But this is the time to look at the path instead of the drop-off, and be thankful for the Rock on which I stand.  Not easy.


Debbie Ferguson said...

Praying for you today, Jennifer.

lisa said...

Jennifer and Scott,
I love reading your blog. I am an old friend of Pat Abbott's from Bowman Gray. Please give her my love and know you are in my prayers. What a experince practicing medicine.
Lisa Miller
(Pediatrician in Covington, GA)