Friday, 8 May 2009

Escaping the North

We have had enough of the ice and snow! And yes, for the record, there are still small patches of God's fluffy white plague around our property. I have instructed my luggage to pack itself efficiently as I write this letter to the world, so I figure (according to the evolution theory) I still have a few million years before my clothing sprouts legs and figures out a decent folding technique. Of course (according to reality), I really should get up there and speed the process along but I did want to write up a bit of an update on my life, and the self-packing bags is the most creative excuse I can come up with tonight for taking time to sit and type. (I have been back in the public school system for five days and my cleverness has been spent. Futhermore I must confess that the math is not any easier with nine more years of schooling under my belt... fractions are still make me nervous and my spelling hasn't improved much either.) All of this ado to say... Well, not much of anything, yet.

Tonight my mother, father, two sisters and I will be catching a series of transportation devices en route to the land of sunny skies and freckly skin. This will be our first official family adventure and I don`t think any of us know just what to expect when we get there... lots and lots of heat, hopefully! We are armed with our plans, of course - but sometimes plan and reality have very few things in common. but, regardless of whether or not we end up doing exactly what we are planning, I know that God has a plan that is so much bigger than anything we can put together on an itinerary - and His plans are not subject to the will of the weather or bank. (In fact, it`s quite the opposite!) So I am trusting Him with the big stuff as well as the detailed bits. He`s got it under control - so as long as we are in prayer and making sure that our plans line up with His, I know we`ll be good and safe and happy.

So maybe you`re going to be working this week and stuck in the four-degree weather that the forecasters are forecasting, and you`re going to avoid reading my post-trip post because of insane vacational jealousy, and you`re wondering if there is any possible application from this note to your life... Well, there is: you are a good person. And that should make you happy. Maybe not quite as happy as I am right now, but still enough to bring a smile to your heart. Have a great week!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Primavera Pastimes

Summer always feels like a time of incredible potential. There is a fantastic sense of suspense that lingers in the air for what time away from the normality of school life might bring. Summer is adventurous, there is a longing for new experiences, an awakening of the whole natural world, and in many ways, a reawakening internally. For me, I can feel the change of seasons in my imagination - suddenly I am creating stories and projects for myself left and right, I feel drawn to pen and paper (and computer) to scribble the ideas down lest they evaporate as quickly as they came. I find myself wanting to be out-of-doors, on my roof, on my bike and with my camera; I want to capture the freshness of the rain and the power of the wind and preserve the feeling of growth and progress as long as possible. Spring. Summer. Whom except God has insight to what the next few months will bring for me when one day can change so much, one week even more!

I am playing a song over in my mind that I learned when I was quite young: "I'm just a child, my life is still before me, I just can't wait to see what God has for me, but I know that I can trust Him and I'll wait to see what life will bring for me." I think that these words are just as applicible to me now as they were when I was seven. Every day I am living in anticipation of the life that God is planning.

Besides, it's spring! Be happy, find joy in the renewal of the earth and take time to recognize the beauty in green grass, blooming flowers and budding trees. Sit on a bench for a while - who knows what could happen? Go for a walk, dust off your boardgames and hide the remote; try something new! Life is full of posibilities, mysteries and beautiful things. And remember to smile. Always smile.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Rescued. Here, Anyway...

It had been almost a week since the Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers and I am watching the rain fall, soaking the grass outside into a giant earthy sponge. Last Saturday evening almost two hundred people slept overnight on equally squishy grass in the middle of Queen’s Park, in honour and representation for the kids who have been abducted in the African jungles; over 70,000 people joined us globally. It was a day and a night that none of us will quickly forget, but it is an experience that I want to share with you, the committed and curious followers of the Ugandan battle for peace and justice, who may have been unable to come and support the event physically.

On the afternoon of April 25th, hundreds of young adults gathered together in Dundas Square. There were people from all over Ontario who had come for the rally and my team almost took the cake for furthest commute (ten of us travelling down from North Bay), but Aaron Carter decided to break that record by flying in for the event and leading our two kilometre march to Queen’s Park. Traffic didn’t like us and I gathered that the police officers helping us out weren’t too thrilled either, but with mighty and repetitive cheering our message was peeled off computer screens everywhere and brought to the streets for people to see and hear in real life.

As we filed into the park and met up with friends old and new, we quickly discovered two things; firstly, this event was going to be a whole lot of fun and, secondly, the dark storm in the distance were going to be joining our party in haste. We took well-lit group pictures and videos while we could, but it didn’t take long for the cloud to cover and the rain to fall. Soon after many fled to shelter and we spent a long time running and skipping through puddles, creating garbage-bag ponchos and even climbing a tree or two. Then it came time to work and we built a Survivor worthy tent from two tarps, an orange metal podium, a large city trashcan and some cord. In a stroke of genius and in the spirit of generosity we went on an excursion to McDonald’s and figuratively shocked the socks off cashiers and back crew and even the manager as we politely requested 100 apple and strawberry pies, to go. Coordination for such an epic purchase would have taken a bit longer than we were willing to wait, so we settled on 50 double cheeseburgers. I believe any eye-rolling or panic we caused was quite justified. It was a tall order, but our handouts back in the park were graciously received by our fellow abductees. There is a rare joy found when the unexpected gift you give to others is so warmly appreciated.

And so, the night rolled on and the thunder added its applause to our efforts. We were rescued by Olivia Chow, Jack Layton and Rick Mercer along with a few other faces you may have found familiar on Saturday night, but despite our relatively early liberation (as I post this there is still one city waiting for rescue), we stuck it out through the wind and rain, talking, laughing, writing obscure poetry (to be posted shortly) and packing ourselves under the tarp like sardines to escape the chill until the birds sang us “good morning” at about five or six o’clock.

I think we all learned a lot more than we had expected from last weekend. If the sun had shone and the grass had been dry the event still would have raised the awareness that it did – but something about spending the night cold and wet set their situation – the real, day-to-day lives of the Ugandan kids – into a sharper reality. They don’t have thick sleeping bags and Oreos to keep them comfortable at night. They don’t have a McDonald’s to escape to for clean facilities and good lighting. They don’t have people they can just talk to or laugh with or sleep beside in safety... they are alone and they are without joy, but they are not without hope. The kids in Africa – in Uganda, in Southern Sudan and in the jungles of the Congo – are praying for rescue. They don’t have e-mail or telephones or YouTube to be crying out for help like we do, so we must learn to be their voice. We must call out for them – and continue until change happens. We must do what we can because if we will not help them, they will die in slavery before they ever get home.

In speaking out I know that I run the risk of being ignored. I am risking ridicule and judgement. But I believe that these kids are worth it. They need the power of my voice more than I need the passive reputation of my name. So stay tuned if you want to listen; this is not the end for these kids and it is not the end for me. So here is my challenge: examine your priorities and take a hard look at your heart. Where does your treasure lie? What are you willing to do to defend it?

Take a stand, pick your side and please, reach out and rescue the children.