December 29, 2007

It just about broke my heart to listen to him, and I silently prayed for the ability to tell him, in words he could digest, the truth I so desperately longed for him to grasp.
This was the week when I finished up the monthly newsletter, and so I decided on a themed page of sample New Year’s resolutions. To do so, I conducted an informal survey of the residents, and then compiled a list of anonymous quotes. Though he is not a typical resident, this young man lives with his grandfather, and so seeing him around while off from school, I asked if he had a New Year’s Resolution he’s like to share. Initially confused at the question, I explained what I meant. After thinking a moment about what his “resolution” might be, he responded that yes, he did have one, actually. I could see him carefully composing his thoughts, and then he told me he resolved, “to work better, and harder–for my life to be worth something.”
This is when I tried desperately to affirm his thoughtful resolution–wise beyond his 12 years–while telling him that he should never feel that he had to work harder in order for his life to be worth something; I explained that he was perfectly, wonderfully important as he is, and that working hard is a good thing, but is not necessary to make his precious life any more valuable than it already is . . .
Today, as I distributed the completed newsletters, he and his grandfather came back from an afternoon outing. Seeing me, he asked if it was what he thought it was, and I smiled as I told him that it was indeed–“hot off the press.” He asked if he could have one and, after teasing him a moment about whether or not he was allowed to see it, I gave one to both he and his grandfather. Then I happily observed his proud explanation of how he had contributed a “quote” for the newsletter, which he showed to his grandpa. Seeing that he was willing to share his own words, I then asked him if he also remembered what I had told him yesterday. And I was deeply moved at his eager reply, as he gave an accurate account of my admonition. My only prayer is that it can find a resting place deep in his psyche, coming back to the forefront of his memory as the journey to adulthood assaults him with trials that wage war against his sense of self, and of significance.

a pink pink rose

December 27, 2007

It seems I have somewhat of a secret admirer. Taped to my office door today was this rose, accompanied by a note:
to a lone Dove . . . from the Spirit World . . . you remind me of a pink rose
Considering the nature of my workplace, this is not necessarily something to be flattered over. But my inner romantic finds it rather touching all the same :-)

musings, past and present

December 26, 2007

My little brother agreed to accompany me to work this afternoon, where we managed to deliver the final 8 leftover Salvation Army meals, completing the deliver of their 81 donated dinners. It was a fine way to spend a Christmas Day, for sure–nicely rounding out a few days of family gatherings, gift exchanges, carol singings, and devotional readings. As I am still behind in a sewing project, and have not devoted time to writing over this holiday season, I decided to re-post a piece I wrote several years ago . . . “the magnificat,” i called it:

Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord. The familiar catch of breath. The sting in the eyes. And the tears begin to flow with the falling rain. Or do the tears fall with the flowing rain. What is it in these words that I whisper that wrenches at my heart so? Why does Mary’s prayer touch the core of my being, so many centuries after it was spoken?
I think it must be because I know that she was just a girl, just a human being, with a woman’s heart like my own. And so, when I hear her wondering words, I can feel with her the emotion she must have felt. To bear the son of God—what wondrous mystery, what glorious honour! And she was, like me, just a young woman—much younger, in fact, than I am now. And so, no matter how often I hear the story and read her words, it still has the power to bring abrupt and unsought tears.
What a gracious God, to work wonders with such frail and faulty creatures as us!

tonight’s gift

December 21, 2007

translation: Carsyn 5 [i.e. 5 years old]. I like to come to anna’s house to read a book. from carsyn to anna.
As he handed this note to me, Carsyn sternly instructed me that I must keep it. I don’t think I will have difficulty doing as I’m told . . .

feeling festive

December 17, 2007

I am currently obsessed with this creche . . . and I am absolutely thrilled with the fact that I am now its proud owner. My grandmother was lamenting the fact that she had acquired a large new decoration and, intrigued at her description when I carted the box out of the car for her, I pulled it out to see for myself. Oddly enough, considering my general dislike of extra “stuff,” my laziness when it comes to decorations, and my spare inclinations in aesthetic decor, I instantly fell in love with it. M grandma generously offered to part with it, and I now am trying to decide upon the perfect spot. Mom is visiting me at the moment [I cried when I saw her, missing hr so much: no simple tears either: I was a blubbering mess of boo hoos!]; but she has not helped much with the placement inspiration–she claims that I am the one who knows about such things, not she. So I am still trying to place it: any ideas from those of you familiar with my place? ;-)

for auld lang syne

December 12, 2007

A request from my Aunt for some of my Zambia photos has left me sentimental from looking through my photo files . . . so in honor of said sentimentality, here’s one of the shots that didn’t make it to my blog.

I belong to a privileged minority of folks who enjoy what they do. I love my job [most of the time, that is ☺]. More importantly, however, my job is good for me. Hopefully I am good for it as well . . .
But what I find myself enjoying lately about it is the way in which it forces me out of my routine. I have a tendency to create structured routines no matter what my phase of life my be: this routine can change drastically from one phase to the next [i.e. American librarian to teacher in the Zambian bush], but upon transitioning, I rapidly develop a new routine. This is a good thing, and I do it because I need to . . . but it can become a bit neurotic at times.
So I love the fact that my job involves “surprise” encounters. It certainly holds its fair share of regular, scheduled tasks [writing/producing the newsletter, getting new residents settled, updating files, etc]. But the most interesting/challenging tasks—and definitely the most amusing ones—often come from the unexpected events . . .
As I often do, I made a house call instead of simply making a phone call, to see if Ms. Emily wanted to sign up for the next holiday event. When I knocked she opened the door more promptly than I am accustomed to, making me step back a bit, pausing as I tried to remember how I had planned to address her [I generally compose questions before actually asking them].
Before I had a chance to say anything, however, she ushered me in the door with a comment as to how “relieved she was to see me.” My emergency-radar jumped in here, as she was one of the residents I had not yet met—I assumed, then, that she must have some urgent need for assistance.
Once the door was closed behind me, and I was safely insider her apartment, Ms. Emily lowered her voice and leaned towards me, wide-eyed, as she explained that she had been just about to come to the office. She paused, lowered her voice slightly more, and hushedly exclaimed, “Gophers!”
“What,” I queried, thinking I must have heard her wrong.
But I had not. It turns out that Ms. Emily was terrified of the “gophers” she had seen in her apartment. Translated, thanks to some further questioning and investigation, this means that Ms. Emily had seen a rat. Ahhh, of course, I thought, once I had solved the mystery and duly reported the infestation . . . and I smiled to myself at my private joke. Considering the way I have been replaying the image in my mind of her “Gophers!” revelation, I think this will be just one of the many mental files this job offers that serve as reminders that sometimes real life is just too darn funny to take too seriously. A good reminder for all of us who are prone towards the stressing/worrying tendencies!

a lifetime dream

December 3, 2007

Thanks to a kind friend, who made the journey when I could not, I have just now seen, for the very first time, a photo of my father’s grave . . .