Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Pandatic Conversation

This post has nothing to do with the stated purpose of my blog. It is simply pandaring to the reality that my "audience" consists of a few family and friends...who know me too well to be impressed by my more serious writing anyway. Thus the following:

Scene: Woodley Park Zoo in DC. Me, Helani, and Juli, moseying along the Asia Trail in pursuit of our prey. Having braved all variety of endangered animals and signs warning darkly of poachers and extinction, having resisted the siren song of the Panda Cafe - having, in fact, preserved our wallets from harm and our bellies from expansion - we make it at last to that king of attractions. That beast keyed to such a poor diet that it must spend 16 hours a day eating. Nature's weedwhacker, at whose approach the bamboo forests shiver in fear. The giant of giants...

The panda. Sprawled on his back for all to see, pulling bamboo branches to his mouth and stuffing them in. Some passersby stop to admire. Others continue along the path, tugged along by their unenthralled young. Eventually, the panda has had quite enough bamboo and ambles to the strategically placed stream for a good long drink. We look on in awe. Eventually, the panda has had quite enough water and ambles back to the same bamboo clump as before, there to blissfully eat bamboo paw-to-mouth. We consider his manner of life.


Me: "Typical male."
Helani: "Yeah. 'I'm going to go back to the couch now.'"

Silent consideration of panda, and perhaps other matters, resumes. Briefly.

Helani: "It must be an easy life. No predators..."
Me: [blinking] "No creditors?"

There are not words to convey the look Helani gives me.

Juli: "If this is Panda, press one..."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tidings of Change

Arrow-path, water laps out
Ripples in time's wake wash us
Sunlit sparks hide the depths
Dazzle us, who are drifting
Blind, clinging to our wreckage.
Nowhere to go, we tread in place
Years pass - it is endless.

Spear-path, water flows new
Ripples from eternity cleanse us
Sunlit spark in our depths
Guides us, no longer adrift
Blind still - but to sin's wreckage.
Harbor in sight, we at last swim
Years after it is finished.

-Margaret Catherine

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quotes to live by...and hang onto by your fingernails.

"You have not called us to be successful, you have called us to be faithful."
"If you do not love your brother whom you do see, how can you love God whom you do not see?"
"Love until it hurts."

Not "until it's going to hurt, and then hold back." Not, "until love isn't returned, and then let yours become anger." Until it does hurt. And then? Keep right on loving - and yes, keep on hurting from it. From the lack of any return, from the pain you can see but can't, aren't allowed to, heal or even comfort. From the knowing that all, all, you can do is show a path. You can't lead anyone down it, you can't make them want to walk it. You can only show, and watch others go right on their own way. Maybe in twenty years, long after you've passed out of that person's life, something will come of it. But you'll never know about it this side of Heaven. If we are to follow Christ in everything, we also are to follow the Christ who wept over Jerusalem - who poured out so much love, spent Himself in every way, and was about to give up His very life...but could not gather that city to Himself; could not win the love of its people.

So, today, I'm tired. I'm discouraged, yes. I let myself lose my temper with the children, and I'm annoyed at myself for that. Every day at that camp is a repeat of the day that went before, and a preview of the day to come. I work with the older girls - and many of them are here for the last time. Whatever seeds might have been planted in them, they certainly have not sprouted. And this is the last year we have with them, at least in terms of the camp. Some sign...some indication that we've wrought some small change...would be nice. But there's nothing of the sort, they're going to leave on Friday exactly the same as when they started camp. Just as angry, just as insolent, just as incapable of trust or respect. Just as closed to God and to any world beyond their streets. No different at all, no more interested in anything that would work a difference in them.