WhatamIdoinghere

WhatamIdoinghere
And whatwasIthinking
To expose myself to rejection
And the stinging unknown.
WhatamIdoinghere
And whatwasIthinking
To make myself vulnerable
To a broken world,
Tasting its pain and distress
Hearing the cry of the oppressed.
WhatamIdoinghere
And whatwasIthinking
To let my soul experience
The piercing emotion that comes
From living a full life,
Allowing my will to battle strife,
Petitioning for souls at heaven’s door,
And understanding love more than before
WhatamIdoinghere?

Judging the radical

There is someone I regularly pass judgment upon. I try not to. But he has a way of deflating my perceived piety because whenever I am around him, I feel myself judging him. He just doesn’t fit into my spiritual box.

Nearly every time I see him, God teaches me the same lesson: “Stop judging, my child.” And I am convicted once again.

Spirituality isn’t confined to what I think it should look like. And when I’m not so busy being full of myself and how I am doing spirituality perfectly, then I see how God displays His attributes differently in different people. So how can I put His personality in a box?

And I think of the people in the Bible who more focused on God than on themselves. They had to do some pretty radical things: leading an entire people group out of slavery, taking messages of judgment to God’s people, marrying a prostitute, living a wild desert life, and giving up normality to have a child out of wedlock…a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.

So how can I say that I know what a relationship with God looks like for every person? He doesn’t give us all of the same callings or the same giftings. And I am thankful that not everyone is as closed-minded as I am about following God radically.

Quiet corner=buried treasure

 

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Have you ever stumbled across a place that you were subconsciously looking for? It takes a bit for you to catch your breath as your heart smiles: “Yes!”

It might be as trivial as a little cafe, buried in a North African old city where few tourists trod. Except us. A friend and I were wandering down one narrow cobblestone street after another. We walked right past the cafe the first time, not because we didn’t notice it, but because the owner spotted us and began to holler that we were welcome. We darted down another street to avoid him. But we that street was a dead end and eventually we had to turn around.

Hot and tired, we were easy victims when we passed by the cafe the second time and the owner called out his menu just in case we changed our minds. Then he said the magic words: “We have orange juice!”

We sat on white plastic chairs and admired the blue art hanging from metal chains on the blue walls. The reed table runner covered the rusty metal table and smelled like fresh hay. Sitting felt wonderful. The shade felt wonderful. We pulled off our sunglasses and mopped the sweat from our foreheads.

The juicer was whirring inside a makeshift hut, the cafe’s kitchen. A moment later, we heard slurping and a satisfied, “Ahhh!” Apparently our juice had met the cafe owner’s approval.

He brought out tall glasses on little metal plates. “My name is Rashid.”His sunny smile brightened when we tried to speak Arabic. But he left us alone until we were finished enjoying the shade and every last drop of our fresh orange juice.

Relaxed inside

Recently, a friend of mine was searching for the English word “peace.” The word eluded her. Instead of asking for a translation, she created my new favorite collocation: “relaxed inside.”

Isn’t “relaxed inside” a beautiful description of peace? That inner knowledge that one’s slate is erased of error. That gentle cleansing after destruction of guilt. And the confidence that at the end of our life struggle is heaven.

Peace

This peace tonight
Surpasses understanding.
Fresh. Gentle.
A cool summer sunset
That settles in naked nothingness
Around my shoulders
Like slippery sheets.
A completed dream
That leaves me thirsty,
Arising in the blackness
To pray.
And when sleep comes again
There is only God.

Food- part 4

My experience with the Spanish cuisine has been limited to the two trips I’ve made while living in North Africa. While I would say I prefer North African food, there are a few things that the Spanish do really well, such as bread, pastries, olives, and of course, coffee.

I’m sure I’ll have more things to say as I experience more of what the country has to offer!

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My first taste of Spain: McDonald’s. I don’t even like McDonald’s.

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Café con helado (coffee with ice cream)

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Delicious pasteries

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Chocolate and coffee for breakfast

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Or churros and coffee…

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And olives. Lots and lots of olives. And there is a reason that Spain is famous for olives.

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When all else fails, try octopus. I tried this in a “tapa” bar, a restaurant where you order a drink (alcoholic or non) and choose an appetizer to go along with each drink you order. Because the portions are small, this is a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you will like… such as octopus!

The belt slinger

Sitting in the shade of a damp sheet strung across two clotheslines hadn’t been too bad. But now out on the street, I had to stop pretending it wasn’t hot. The concrete tossed the day’s heat into my face as we walked down narrow streets of the tall apartment buildings in Aisha’s neighborhood.

It was the day of l-Eid, the celebration at the end of Ramadan. As the sun considered setting, people started to appear on the streets, freshly scrubbed and in new clothes. Time for the party!

Aisha had explained that all of the children would be out on the streets in their new clothes, playing, dancing, and laughing. We were on our way to witness this delightful street party now.

But we were only approaching Aisha’s mother’s apartment when we encountered a slight glitch in our plans: apparently, Aisha’s nephew had whacked a neighbor girl with his belt. The girl’s mother approached the few family members lingering outside of Aisha’s mother’s apartment. She was furious as she displayed the belt’s point of contact with her daughter’s face.

Along with the others, I peered at the unbruised, unbroken skin, trying to ascertain the validity of the crime. Her inflammatory remarks didn’t set well with the boy’s family. An instant wall of excuses met her accusations: this wasn’t the boy’s problem, but her daughter’s problem, the family told her.

The little girl’s shaky sobs were lost as the confrontation exploded. Hollering escalated, echoing up and down the street. Neighbors rushed to the scene to offer unwanted advice and intercession. Others stood in the background to observe. Above us, others leaned out of windows to watch the drama unfold on the street below. A bit of pushing began, but tapered off quickly as friends dragged the more aggressive ones away. There was little effort to control any display of temper.

I was the only foreigner, the only one who didn’t quite culturally grasp what was happening. I leaned awkwardly against the doors of a closed shop to watch, fighting my own instincts to intervene.

The original crime had been so trivial. Why the big fight in the middle of the street?

Meanwhile, the little belt slinging offender was running around slaying other children with his belt, unhindered and unnoticed altogether… except by me!IMG_6106

Food- part 3

I’ve been talking a lot about food recently. The last couple of food posts have been about my experience with North African daily cuisine. There are a few things that sometimes are added to or mix up the routine:

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Produce is inexpensive and delicious

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Sandwiches sold in little sandwich shops or from street vendors are popular. They come in all different varieties: chicken, beef, potatoes, chick peas, etc.

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Then there is the shawarma

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And camel burgers are a nice way of mixing up your routine

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This beloved drink finds one regardless of how far from home!

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And, of course, there is access to American fast food restaurants, such as Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.