lovely layah

January 24, 2008

Layah and I played on the beach after she got out of school this afternoon, picking shells and watching the sea creatures that inhabit the rocks as the tide goes in and out. At one point she held up a small shell and informed me that it was 1000 years old. Really? I asked. Wow! How can you tell? She shrugged as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a child to know and said that it was just the way it was with these types of shells . . . Who knew?
I couldn’t help but snap this shot of her as the sun set: she was breathtakingly lovely in her lightly rumpled uniform and slightly frizzing braids :-)

what are you looking at?

January 23, 2008

Walking past him on the road this morning, this fellow’s look of aloof bemusement made me chuckle. So I returned, this time armed with my camera.

I seem to have come around full circle, in a sense: last January I moved to Zambia. This year I am in a decision-making mode again, trying to decide if I should move to where I am at the moment . . .
A church in the Cayman Islands has flown me out to meet the “family” and to see if I will come out to be their full-time youth leader. It is a strange thing to be recruited for a job I have never before considered; but in this case, it just might be the right fit. Friday night I played games with the children, met the youth, and told them animated stories of adventures from my sojourn in Zambia. Yesterday was spent catching bugs, dining with some church families and then having my official “session meeting,” in which I was interviewed by all the elders. Today I taught Sunday School, sang and spoke during the Sunday morning service, and then had a fellowship lunch afterwards to meet everyone I had not yet met.
I was, as you might imagine, grateful for an hour of downtime this afternoon to read on the beach!
It is off now to the evening worship service, so I bid you all “ta.” And I hope that I have not just turned some of you friends into enemies by admitting to the fact that I have just flown the coop, escaping the January snow to come to, er, Paradise??

what is it?

January 19, 2008

why, breakfast, of course! . . . granted, it was only after breakfast that I discovered its source, but this is it. Who knows what “it” is? ;-)

palm ponderings

January 15, 2008

I guess I was asking for it: he said he knew I was going to be there that day, knew he would run into me at the WalMart. So I smiled and said, “Prove it!” That’s when he told me he was a shaman, and that he “knew things about people” . . . he could read my palm if I’d let him.
Why not, I figured—now was as good a time as any. Work would always be there, piles of papers and files would always be waiting on my desk. So long as there was no current “emergency” call, I could give him a couple of minutes to hone his shamanic skills. Settling into my chair, I held out my hand and waited.
He began by telling me what he knew about my past—I assume that the resident grapevine had done its job, so I wasn’t particularly surprised that he correctly spoke of childhood trauma, of death in the family. And then he began to tell of the future. Being a very transparent sort of gentlemen, I knew he sincerely believed what he said when I told me that he saw some things that he didn’t want to tell me about what he saw in my life. I replied that I didn’t mind if he told me, as I’d rather know than wonder.
So he told me that in 10 to 20 years time, I was going to be diagnosed with a serious illness. He said I was going to fight it, but that I may not survive. This is not a particularly shocking revelation, as people get sick all the time—things like cancer hit all the time and, sure, you never know how much time you have left in this life. But it got me thinking about how I am spending the days allotted to me. I am no longer so young as to assume a sort of immortality mindset. But I have also lost the cavalier devil-may-care mindset I remember as a teenager and into my early twenties. Mine was not like the stereotypical youthful fearlessness; mine was almost an apathetic approach. A melancholy nature made me loosely attached to my life, in a way that also lent itself towards some irresponsibility. I no longer have the luxury of assuming that my life will take care of itself, as adulthood has forced an independence on me that, frankly, I am immensely grateful for; it is a life-giving, rewarding feeling to know that I can life a self-sufficient and productive life. But it also makes me more vividly aware of the passage of time and, more specifically, of the ways in which the years go by more and more rapidly, heedless of my old ideals of who I was going to be, of what I would do, with my “adult” life.
Here I am, well into a grown-up life, wondering what I have to show for it. Am I living a life that makes the most of the gifts God has given me? Am I wasting time, or is each day purposeful, intentional?
Would that I could live mindfully, never allowing trivialities to steal precious moments from the stuff of real significance.

one-time offer

January 10, 2008

She hollered after me as I was walking out the office door this afternoon, on my way to check on another resident: “Look what I found–I thought I’d never find one of these!” I stopped and went back to hear about this exciting find–Was it a set of amazing Ginsu knives? Or maybe a special one-time-offer-only 43 compartment, key ring included patent leather pocketbook?
She held up a plastic tube that resembled a skinny umbrella case with a zipper. Ceremonially unzipping it, she whipped out a shiny plastic rod, holding it by its rubberized handle.
I smiled at her expectantly, waiting to be wowed and having absolutely no clue as to what exactly this gadget was . . .
Apparently anticipating my ignorance, she wheeled closer and launched into a salesman’s pitch: “You see, it’s for those of us who don’t have such good mobility in our arms anymore. You put the paper through this notch–it tells you how in the instruction book–and then you reach down and . . .
[this is when I realized I hadn’t seen everything yet, even in 5 months on the job]
. . . you wipe your *** with it.
She generously demonstrated the operation, even the “front” and “back” dual purpose, and then rolled around to find another recipient of her good tidings.
And I watched her wheel away, pondering my good fortune in the world of gadget introductions . . .

I have just finished this belated Christmas gift and while I am understandably pleased at the completion of such a long-time project, I am unexpectedly saddened. Similar to when one finishes a beloved book, I am feeling the loss of my work-in-progress. So I am brainstorming as to my next one . . . I think I will do another improvised quilt-like project, as I have some cut squares to build upon: any ideas [or requests ;-)] from anyone out there?

for fellow lovers of words

January 3, 2008

Thanks to a fellow blogger, I have just discovered the most fabulous website: It maps out a word for you, with its various definitions,and is interactive. For starters, I had to look up “grace,” and my favorite of the visual links was the definition for the variations gracefulness and gracility [which, for the record, I must admit that I had no idea even existed, as far as defined words go!]. Anyhow, the definitions for these two are “beautiful carriage” and “elegance and beauty of movement or expression, ” both of which are just lovely . . . a wordy paradise :-)