Tag Archive: Uganda


There’s a lone orange glow coming from the back window.
Rays like a weakened sun, coming through the frosted panes.
Lonely, aching light straining to illuminate, fighting against the night.
My restless spirit keeps knocking books off shelves, rattles the screens,
making my heart race against itself in a search for clarity.
I am thinking of you now, more than I have in the recent months.
Wide-eyed and hoping, full of designs on what the future could be.
Yet, you always carried the past with you like Rodrigo Mendoza’s armour
and it took your breath  away over and over with each labourious step.
So often you were that orange light glowing, comforting and encouraging,
almost brilliant against the darkness around you.
When you finally stepped forward and accepted that you were forever new,
we had no idea that one day the steps you took were to Kasese and back.
Your arms were wider and more open than anyone’s ever could.
But, at times your light was so muted by the baggage that you would never leave behind
that I always wanted more for you, just so you could receive that joy.
Maybe then you would understand that you had no need for the daily reminder
of being less than white and bright, pure and needing no restitution, no penance.
Here in the wee hours where the shadows dance, I wrestle with that myself
The sun will rise tomorrow, and so did our salvation so many years ago.
But, there is a heaviness that robs me of my full-throated breath
just like your enfeebled steps serving to keep you from singing and dancing
at the thought of the rich blessings coming in Easter’s morning sun.
I so often am overcome with the understanding I have of the isolation
and such agonising vulnerability in the face of being stripped bare and left bleeding.
It reminds me that you had so much missing from your joy.
You never really could burn as brightly as your heart wanted.
You never got to throw back your head and let your soul unwind…
until you gave up the ghost, and it was given back to you freely.
I want to learn that lesson, so hard to win before I meet you there.
To not identify with the weight and suffering in Friday’s sacrifice
from the merciful and tragic tree in skull’s hill’s passion play
without accepting the grace of redemption in Sunday’s surprise
from the transformation left behind the stone rolled away.

 

2:53 am
8 April 2012

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The Value of Soil

The ground is weary.  Dried and crumbling.  Each footstep upon it crackles and snaps, like breaking its bones.  It, disheartened and weak cannot stand against the neglect of a relentless sun day after day.  The dirt cries out in anguish, desperate and failing.  After years and years of prayers being unanswered, hopes and dreams disappearing like vapour, it starts to give up the ghost.  The spirit starts to leave the ground behind, and life seems to be waning without sustenance.

Someone comes along.  Her feet contributing to the decay, they stop.  She refuses to move forward and leave yet another set of footsteps through.  Unlike those before her, she does not move past leaving this to swelter and cry alone.  In her heart, she sees a mirror of her own life.  So much time has gone by.  Such rich and promising things could have been.  She too has cried out mercilessly weak and unable to change her lot.  Potential becoming a metaphor for failure.  Emptiness chosen over and over, replacing hope.

Now to look at either as places where fruit would grow is unthinkable.  The ground lain too long fallow is unworkable.  The person far too long set in their ways to ever change.  Untenable.  And so both have been written off, like so many times before.  Cast away, cast out.  Abandoned.  Forgotten.  Alone.

She realises that unless she does something, the ground will never be what it was supposed to be.  Generations and years will go by and the world would detrimentally and radically be different from what it should be if she didn’t do something.  Anything.  And she realises that every effort she makes with the soil she stands upon will be an effort of her own reclamation.

That’s what it is… reclamation.

God entered my mother’s heart and reclaimed something that was already His.  She, for many many years, had deliberately stayed outside His care and at arm’s length.  She felt abandoned, discarded, like there was nothing left of worth to come from her life.  By the time God reached in and broke through the walls keep Him at arm’s length, my mother was well into the latter 3rd of her life.  She never quite got the visual image of her world being dry, broken, crumbling and of no use out of her head.  It was a struggle that lasted until her last days.  

She struggled with the concept of nobility.  That she was what the scriptures said to her.  She was uniquely special, called by God, a royal priestess, God’s mouthpiece, and His arms and feet.  For most of us, those concepts are vagaries, but for mom, they were daily struggles.  She knew that deep down she was meant for so much more.  But like the land in the previous metaphor, the roots couldn’t grow in land so beaten about by the previous 50 something years.  She always saw herself as ignoble, for nothing more than common things.

Then she saw it.  In the words of a teacher, she saw it.  In the experiences related from a pastor, she saw it.  From the desperate pleas of a leader, she saw it.  Her eyes didn’t see the ground parched and pleading.  She saw the lush land with fruits and vegetables growing.  She saw the ground producing life-giving sustenance.  Her belief saw what could be and believed it would be.  It will be.  That’s what she didn’t get for so very long.  That the commonplace, the everyday:  the tilling of the soil, working it with your hands, watering it, and waiting expectantly for green shoots to push through the ground that once was a desert and dying.

As God opened up her eyes, that there was a ground desperate for care, she often would say that she had two arms and she could hug anyone and everyone that she could find.  She would provide nourishment in a place that had none before.  She did so because she was once that dry land.  Her heart and life was very much a wasteland.  As God poured His living waters out and they permeated the soil of her heart, she transformed.  No one really understood the depth to which she felt that.

She fell in love with this ground like she was rediscovering the beautiful child of Christ that she always has been.  For her it was the ultimate place.  Like it was created just for her.  Imagine finding yourself in a discarded place, in the midst of a crumbling reality.  Imagine seeing the beautiful sight that is seen through God’s eyes, not accepting the obvious.  Her whole life turned upside down, and she used up all of the rest of her life for what she saw in that image. 

Her land was in the hearts of those wonderful kids at Base Camp United Christian Federation.  An orphanage.  Hearts discarded because of loss, war, disease, death.  She saw such life and joy and promise.  While she was able, she tilled the weary soil, planted seeds, and yet she will not get a chance to see them bear fruit.  The work must still be done.  The soil is fertile for God’s love to be made manifest. 

My mother reveled in the opportunity to grow things when she moved to Kasese, Uganda.  She ended up having a place to grow fruit and vegetables just steps away from her living room.  I think she loved the simplicity of what it takes to grow things.  Everyday she had to pay attention to the crops.  Watering, seeds, tilling, and most especially enjoyably… harvesting and having the fruits of her labours.  She once sent me a message frantic from the other side of the world… it turned out that she has just harvested her first cucumber and tomato and pepper.  What a special example of nobility in purpose.  She was meant to work the land.

The harvest was rich, and as it turned out plentiful.  What a rich reminder not to get discouraged as the days stretch on.  What an amazing gift to have to reflect God’s gracious love for her.  Just like He rejoices with the investment of those extending love on His behalf. 

Each of us has been tended to for us to reach where we are.  Someone reached us when we were proverbial wastelands.  God wants to reclaim us, to restore us to be who we were created to be.

The ground is still weary.  The people are incredibly weary.  They both feel abandoned and broken.  We’re craving being taken care of, attention being paid to us, and hope for change.  We need to remember that the fields are in desperate need of healing.  Do not let us forget that.  The world around us is crumbling, dry and disheartened.  Be committed to the noblest effort, that of reconciling all of creation to He who created it. 

So… will you tend the soil in desperate need?  Will you step out and provide the thirsty ground what it needs?

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