• Like Flowers on an African Stoop

    Yesterday, we had another beautiful African morning.  It started like every other—with the sounds of birds playing on the tin roof, followed shortly by a knock on my front door—a friend over to spend the day.  We had a full schedule, including a drive into the village for food at the outdoor market.


    As we stepped out my front door and off the step, I made a casual remark about wanting to try to find some potted plants for the space.  Realizing what a task that would be in my rural village, I put the thought out of my mind, and we headed out on our drive.  In the evening, we had a small dinner party with friends.  When I closed the door behind the last guest, I remember feeling that I had closed the door on a perfect day.  I couldn’t help singing a new favorite Luganda song as I prepared my bed under the mosquito net.  This move to Africa really was the right thing for me.


    Today, I awoke early, again to the sounds of the bird-dance above.  Anxious to see what this day would hold, I went to open the front door — a sign of welcome to passersby.  As it swung open, what I saw made me gasp in the laughing-sort-of-way that is becoming commonplace for me.  A dozen pots filled with flowers were now adorning my front step.  My friend had obviously heard my simple wish, and had been up early to do something about it. 


    I have no idea where he managed to find the pots, but I do know that, though I am thousands of miles from my birthplace, I have come home — for I have never before seen such simple, unmasked loving-kindness.


    Maybe it sounds silly, but to me the flowers are a perfect expression of the kind of love that gives life its breath.  A love that sees even the simple desires of our heart, quietly places their answers in our lives like flowers on a stoop, and then hides in the bushes until we wake up and open the door to them.


    I would like to think of myself as such an example of loving-kindness, but I know that I am not.


    At least not yet.


    But I shall keep trying. 


    Perhaps Africa will teach me to respond not only to a person’s most obvious needs, but to the seemingly trivial longings of their heart as well.  It just might be the day they come home.


    I’d like that.


    Other early  entries from Nathaniel’s African Journal:

  • The senseless losses in Connecticut and globally are indeed worthy of our great lament–and action.

    The senseless losses in Connecticut and globally are indeed worthy of our great lament–and action. May we always allow our grief to inform a deeper, ever more cherished understanding of this human experience–and of the power of our own active compassion in the face of an evil that emerges in the forms of mental and physical unhealth. A laser-sharp focus is required in the search for solutions while a concentrated indwelling in the present makes appropriate space for the healthy, humane responses we call sorrow and pain.

    In the past, I have liked the phrase, “Let the change begin with me.” Tonight it seems too passive. I am now actively looking for strategies to make this more than a pleasant-sounding wish. That said, I have a great worry as I see people rushing to a legislative response to an emergence of evil. (Selah.)

    A colleague recently discovered that he has high cholesterol when he was told that he had been prescribed medication for the same. I shared with him that–when I learned I had high cholesterol–my physician prescribed changes in my diet and lifestyle. Now 80 lbs lighter, I wonder, is our rush to law the same as a rush to the pharmacy?

    Can we really legislate and prescribe wellness, or is it corporately developed through an ethic of nurturing and care?