(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, December 24, 2016) MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ It was just past sunrise in Congo at a mission refugee camp. This is when I walked into it. It was a certain and gentle light. It was in a church. I was alone. It wasn't much of a church, just plain with a dirt floor and simple benches and open ceiling. The space was empty. Still. Voiceless.
(The Hamilton Spectator - Monday, January 4, 2016) MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ It was evening and dark and dozens of voices, mostly African, by candlelight and under bright stars, were singing carols in front of our long-time East African home. It was a moment to reflect on the days ending 2015, and a moment, also, when I was asked to say a word. “So where does everyone go at Christmas?” I asked the kids more than anyone. “Home!” they yelled into the night air.
Today’s post is a wish for a blessed Christmas for you and yours, a wish for peace and joy and all the things that (thank you, Paul) are to be seen at least through a hazy mirror even here and now, imperfectly yes, the sort of things of the heart that one day we [...]
(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, December 20, 2014) ISTANBUL, TURKEY ✦It was a Sunday, the first day of Advent, en route from Hamilton to my African home, when I toured the Old City here, a place where religions and cultures and empires have collided for centuries. This is when my guide for the day said what he did. I had asked him about some historic notes and holy relics in the Topkapi Palace Museum, items identified as thousands of years old from ancient Israel, but looking dubiously more modern and Ottoman-like, when he told me as plainly as if he was giving the weather report that, "It's all mythology anyway. Whatever you believe is true, that's the truth."
The beauty of Christmas is that you don't have to have it all together to join the choir. In fact, it's more fitting if you're off-key, that is, if you're less than perfect, if you're common. In the most common of places, after all, is where the first Christmas was experienced. By the most common of people. [...]
(Christian Week - December 2014) Today in the food court there was a piano. The pianist, wearing a red Santa hat (naturally), finished “Jingle Bells” through the dull roar of shoppers, their winter coats unzipped, hats aside, while they sat and talked and ate KFC or New York Fries or whatever they happened to have. Then a young woman, scarf thrown loosely over her shoulder, stood and put her cellphone to her ear. Strangely enough, she sang into the phone. And her voice, somehow, melodious and majestic, carried through the entire food court. Brows raised. Heads turned.
(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, December 21, 2013) ENTEBBE, UGANDA ✦ It’s the end of another year of words. Words that have routinely informed us and words that have even sometimes, like summer snow, given a fresh look at everyday things. Like what happened recently in Africa during my children’s nightly reading, a story both troubling and reassuring. “You know,” I said, after, “things will happen in your life. Bad things. And nobody will be able to save you from them. I won’t be able to and neither will your mother. But let me tell you something. God loves to take these sorts of things and turn them into something good.”
It’s Entebbe, Uganda’s port of entry and departure, and we’re almost on a plane over the ocean and back to our home, the one where you can’t wear a t-shirt outside during this time of year. And on the table in front of me is an African news magazine with a picture of Nelson Mandela, [...]