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Taking Part in Past Reality

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Once upon a time, in a far away land… actually, to be more specific, about 100 years ago, in a city called Sarajevo there began what became to be known as The Great War.  May it be shouted from the mountains for all to hear: this is no fairy tale.

As my feet stumble across uneven, cratered ground–the unknown burial place of thousands of young men sent off to battle–the reality of World War I grasps my heart and my imagination.  WWI will never be a stark, hellish, reality for my generation of the 21st century as it was for our great grandparents, but as I stood in the trenches of Vimy Ridge (though dry and absent of rapid gun fire) I felt I was taking part in history; sharing in a little bit of the reality which once was.  As I descended to the tunnel where thousands of soldiers lined up in the blackest blackness, waiting for the command to attack, that same blackest blackness struck fear in me. The same coldness of the damp air against my skin and in my heart, though only for brief seconds, created a connection, a small bit more of an understanding that would not have been their otherwise.  Then my eyes laid upon a name, a single name among thousands, carefully engraved into the white stone of Vimy Ridge: S. Zuidema.  There ended the names of 11, 285 soldiers whose graves are known only to God.

Kelly Z.

Seeing Christ in ‘the Other’

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Who is your “other?” You know, that person or group you may not like or don’t easily identify with? Do you see them as Christ or have you written them off on sheer judgement?  There are two lines in the Celtic Liturgy, which is a part of our morning prayer,  which reads “be in the heart of each to whom we speak and in the mouth of each who speaks unto us.” This brings our focus onto those around us instead of inward, as the world encourages. The particular ‘other’ I would like to focus on here amidst our wealthy, bustling,  seeming uncaring world is the poor. Not ‘other’ in a bad way necessarily but the fact that they are a very real yet disregarded part of the society in which we live. As we’ve been journeying we have seen much poverty. I remember most particularly watching a bearded man with a tattered used-to-be-white blanket strewn over his shoulder going from garbage can to garbage can searching for food. This reality never fails to tear apart the innermost part of my being.  I think when one chooses to see Christ in these people the perspective becomes not only obviously different, but has a stronger impact in the way one talks about and thinks about them. Much of the poverty here seems to be a result of physical disability: I saw one man with stubs for arms and a woman who is blind, to name only a couple. I know this painful compassion I feel is not out of my own goodness, but from the heart of God. In Luke’s recollection of the Beatitudes Jesus says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ..woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you will be hungry… .”


A Poem

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

A girl finds a piece of road

in the middle of the market

crushed amongst the rush

of people purposely searching.

The cup in front of her

hopes for coins of silver;

people push past, wandering

in oblivion’s encompassing cloud.

She folds her hands and sways, speaking Thai

people of the market hurriedly walk by

shopping bags their bracelets, they do not try to divert their eyes

from the fruit on each booth, which deafens her cry…

for justice.

I wanted to ask the girl her name,

but I was afraid

so I kept walking too…


Peace Amidst Strangers

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

“…insofar as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men…” Romans 12:18

An inspiring aspect of this city is being able to see all these different faiths and cultures living with each other in peace. Here in Kuala Lumpur  there are Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians all living and working amidst each other. Everyone of these religions encourages cultivating peacefulness; it is also interesting that each who practice these various religions speak of a similar ‘fullness of God’ with in his or her self.  In a devotional last week we discussed interconnectedness and I feel that KL is one of the prime places  to witness peaceable, interconnected living. This cultural richness is something I am not privileged to see at home and it is amazing. I know this word tends to be over used; but it is truly amazing. I am loving simply basking in and amongst the people here; there is something strangely familiar here that I didn’t feel in the Philippines.

Even though KL is extremely busy with never ceasing crowds, ear drum destroying music, and a little bit smelly it has it own beauty to it and there is an ambiance of peace here. One can feel it through the smallest interaction: sharing a smile with a cashier, a random conversation at the market or on the street, racing a young school boy up the spiraling staircase of the museum.  It is these types of moments that create a memorable trip.

I feel it is worth mentioning that in the market last week a man strode in front of me with his son on his shoulders, the child excited and safe. This served as a gentle reminder that I am on my Daddy’s shoulder’s too, completely at peace and seeing things I never imagined fathomable.



Outside My Bus Window

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

Gazing out the droplet covered bus window onto the streets of Manila, aluminum roofs, laundry covered wires, rooster-and-garbage laden yards, and the sunken, somber face of a child stare back at me, stabbing  my heart with the stark reality of poverty.  I see an elderly man beneath a cardboard and bamboo shelter, with a dirty white t-shirt covering his face from the sun. I see a small girl playing in the flooded streets, wearing nothing. A boy who looks about school age tries to sell me sunglasses and hats, most likely not knowing who his next customer will be or where the next peso will come from. For the first time, these are not pictures on a TV screen or in a National Geographic magazine, they are real.

I really just saw that.

I am sitting in an internet cafe in the mall as I write this blog. Little girls and elderly men and school aged children are here as well. I wonder if and how they live knowing the immediate need of those around them. This has caused me to reflect on my own living and thinking and acting. I cannot without guilt look out the window of our air conditioned bus, with a pillow beside me, food in my knapsack, and an ipod in my ears while poverty looks back at me… the simple fact that it exists makes me feel like I am to blame.

As I continue my window-contemplation (we do a lot of driving) the sights before me– which cannot be captured unless you see them for yourself– make me think even more of how this entire earth is groaning and longing with pain for New Creation to come.  My view of Creation, though it has always included the entire universe, is now in practicality so much bigger than my minuscule cubicle of Canada.