Four summers ago, I flew in a plane over the familiar sight of Europe to an unfamiliar Africa.
Making tracks and change, leaving loved ones behind in Canada - to Him who is able: to hold all the tears no one man can hold, and use them to water dry lands.
I followed His voice, His word and direction - and it led me to Kibera, Kenya.
It still perplexes me why I should be given the honour to travel to such a place, to meet those who touched my heart and inspired the soul. Standing together, lifting voices in praise we were not different, but we were church. Here and there, we all need the Lord - we are all blessed in His gift.
I came home culture-changed. When I don't use a clock or watch, when I keep the lights out at night and burn flickering candles, when I treat myself for the lasting effects of typhoid et al., when I bake chapati on my electric stove, when I syncopate my clapping in Sunday services, I remember Kibera.
In the slum, I learned another means to be thankful for another means of richness: Thanking Him for the water that came once through the week, the intermittent electricity, but mostly for what we had in our lack of Canada, and full of Kenya- more of each other, of feeble Kiswahili attempts, of cultural-missteps and tears and laughter with kindest of friends.
The crushing contrast arriving back here at home haunts me still - my first glimpse at my home country, far more striking than my first gaze at the dusty, smelling vista of the the shanty-city-become-temporary-home. But, it wasn't all about that.
This morning, I felt a twinge of impending guilt as I awoke in my bed nestled in a soft and safe nest, with pillows and a fresh blanket. How many times have I internalized a speech that expostulated my responsibility for the material difference? How these platitudes motivate us in fear, and paralyze us from our responsibility to our brothers and sisters.
So, I made it to my knees to thank Him for much this morning. I gave Him my question why? and how? too.
Only out of the heart of thanks can He move to make well the poverty - our pity is uncharitable. From the posture of thanking we are moved into our daily of His work, and the truth shows up in His way. This is how we might love one another.
I pray for nests of Shalom in Kibera - though this is not the whole reality there now, there are those working diligently to envision and build them - carpenters like their Brother.
peace to you dear friends & His strength in your hands.