3 April 2014
[amanda, daniel, cedar & ezra: cameron highlands, malaysia 2013
photo by steve chee]
here is our (very belated!) christmas card + some thoughts from last fall, as we wrapped up our fifth year in cambodia. sometimes its hard to separate out how much of what we're learning is just the natural course of "growing up", trying to hold tight to what we've known to be true - to all the right & beautiful things we've known, while witnessing the brokenness everywhere. these lessons are not unique to cambodia, but our context here has helped bring these lessons to light for us here, in this place, in this year.
Our fifth year here has flown by - with such joy & also such sadness.
Last year, I asked for prayers that this year we would have eyes to really see & that we would have perspective to Be.Here.Now.
As it turns out, some prayers are soul scorching.
As the year unfolded, more often than not, the seeing felt like a dare. Were we brave enough to look into the eyes of the old woman begging at our ankles, as we traveled festively to the Christmas dinner? Would we watch the mentally disabled young man wandering the streets outside our office every day - look & not quickly glance away in discomfort? Watch the videos, the too-gory-for-our-sheltered-eyes photos of young people, the ones who make our very clothes, bleeding in the streets in pools of rage & shattered hopes? Know that we were here, but not there? Look & see all the times we couldn't stop anything.
Would we see & see & keep seeing? Open our hearts to all the ways the world is bitterly cruel & tragically unsafe?
& at the same time, proclaim (in broken whispers, nothing more) that God is Good. God is Love. Because of his Love we are Not Consumed. Did we dare to do that?
the 5+ years of absorbing tragedies, the Seeing has left our eyes scorched. The world will never be the same wide, adventurous invitation again. bursting with beauty & wonder - yes! (emphatically yes, we have known much, much more than our share of this goodness this year) but also lined with betrayal & a darkness that often feels unquenchable.
And somewhere in the midst of all this seeing , I found myself watching as a tiny body - born, but not to life - entered the flames. And as his parents melted in grief, the only prayer any of us could muster was a pleading "Be.Here.Now". In my request at this year's beginning, I had envisioned those words, that prayer, as a triumphant call to find joy in the moment. (And this year has held such glory for us - new words, first steps, travels, dance-filled bluegrass shows, overwhelming fellowship & love beyond what we ever could have asked)
photo by steve chee]
And yet, this year the prayer was also turned, flipped right upside down into a unrelenting call for Divine Accompaniment - repeated over & over for days (maybe a lifetime?) on end.
Immanuel - God.With.Us. the only answer to Job's dilemma & ours & the whole wide world's.
And so I come to the end of this year with palms (at times begrudgingly) open - thankful for the sacredness that filled a year's worth of spaces & walking on in that Promised Presence.
Come what may.
3 March 2014
[on valentine's day weekend jodi, julia, amie (+ little arwen) & i hopped on the short flight to bangkok for a weekend of wandering, market shopping, coffees, eating (yes, that IS a 'bacon shop' street stall you see there) & all around ladies fun. bangkok is so close & yet feels dramatically different from phnom penh - it was a wonderful change of scenery & weekend of relaxing.]
Posted by amanda + daniel at 10:40
30 October 2013
[perspective: the view from our porch as a thunderstorm rolls in ]
because it seemed that the days had been coming in frantic rushes. there were details to remember, a farewell party to coordinate, daniel's show going late, late, late cutting into precious sleep, arranging babysitters, a saturday board meeting to chair. round & round she goes.
& i sat in the tuk tuk & exhaled deeply. mind racing, i thought:
"we've been living in survival mode ever since cedar was born. when will it end?"
& then i remembered.
i remembered the woman with the recycling cart & her newborn slung in a scarf between the bars that she pushed, walking the streets asking for others' trash., unable to rest - where was her maternity leave?
i remembered the boys huddled at the bus stop sniffing the glue bottle. so young & beautiful & already longing to be numb.
i remembered our own ming kohm & how she had to leave her tiny daughters to go work in the rice fields. how she heard their cries when a neighbor lied & told them that she was never returning. how she showed me how she would bind her breasts so she could go the whole day without feeding her baby.
i looked down & remembered that the coffee i was drinking as i whizzed through the city costs the daily wage of the construction workers i watch from my kitchen window.
i have never, not ever, known what it is like to live in survival mode.
sometimes perspective is like a swift slap to the face.
[but the good kind, like the kind that snaps you out of navel gazing & jolts you into gratitude]