And by "we" I mean that all three of the blogs I've been keeping. They're now in one place, one uber-cool blog spot. So c'mon over to...
Tuesday, October 6
Friday, October 2
Every year about this time, for a tantalizingly short while - a week or two at most - an amazing thing happens here. The whole of New England explodes in color. All those trees that for months have formed a somber green backdrop suddenly burst into a million glowing tints and the countryside, as Frances Trollope put it, "goes to glory."
- Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself
Sunday, September 27
Stephen: "The doctor said I have 20/20 vision."
Me: "Does that make you feel any better about needing glasses?"
"Not really. I look damn sexy in glasses."
Sunday, September 20
Five Years Ago.
I walked into an Orthodox Church. I experienced that truly otherworldly worship.
And I knew.
The turmoil had stopped. My wandering had ceased.
A great weight had been lifted. It wasn't up to me anymore. This wasn't what I had come from. This was so much more than that. I had found something deeper, truer and more wonderful than anything I had known. Because I had found it - the pearl of great price. The Fullness of the Faith.
I felt something in my soul that I've never felt before. Like breathing deeply for the first time.
Glory to You, O Lord. Glory to You.
Wednesday, September 16
Tuesday, September 15
When I finally got around to emptying my red-dirt stained backpack a few weeks ago I found two little stowaways that had been snuck into my bag, and carried home - all the way home - from Juvi...
There's nothing quite like the chaos of a classroom of thirty kids all needing their pencils sharpened right now. And sharpeners never seemed to last very long in the classroom, either breaking or disappearing entirely, so most of the time they were all scrambling for the same two sharpeners. "Moja moja!" I'd tell them. One at a time. But it took me until the last week to realize that this could all be avoided by taking the pencils back the home base and sharpening them all that night.
Which is what I did every night that week, sharpening pencils until my hands were sore and blistered, but oh the relief of that first morning when everyone sat down quietly and waited for their pencils. It's those little things in life that you learn to appreciate.
That last week I also went back to Juvi for a couple afternoons, along with my brother and a few of the other volunteers, just for a chance to play with the kids. A lot of the boys wanted to draw, others wanted to play Tic-Tac-Toe with my brother, and some of the kids were deriving the greatest joy from bouncing that little green plastic ball on the cement floor. The ball would bounce and roll erratically around the room with a handful of kids scrambling after it.
My favorite game to play with the kids, or rather, their favorite game to play with me, was Hangman. They tended to play English words and phrases, usually the same words that were plastered around the room labeling the "chalkboard" and the "window". I liked to play a mixture of the English that they knew and the Swahili that I knew, though the hardest part was learning their own particular pronunciation of the alphabet.
One time I had up on the board:___a kchizi kama ndizi. For those who have never taken Introductory Swahili, it's a common phrase that translates to cool crazy like a banana. A lot of the volunteers liked to wear it on their t-shirts. But poor Clinton just wasn't figuring it out. So I finally looked right at him and said, "Mambo, Clinton!". Mambo is a greeting: How are things? And you respond by saying Poa. Cool. Clinton opened his mouth to reply just as he figured out what I was getting at, and a huge smile grew on his face. For the rest of the day, whenever I would say "Mambo!" to him, he'd just laugh.
Just a pencil and a ball...and I realize how much I miss it.
Friday, September 11
I took my little sister and her friends to see the premiere on Wednesday. I had only seen a couple previews for the movie and I wasn't really sure what to expect. 9 throws you right into the storyline, like so many Twilight Zone episodes. You don't know where you are or when you are, what's happened, or why these little puppet people are the only ones around. And I think this works, on the whole. It's almost a relief to have a movie that doesn't try to explain itself to death in the first ten minutes.
The animation is really wonderful. At a time when there are so many animated movies to be seen, and so many of them beautifully made, I was still caught off-guard by the level of detail. The puppets look and sound real, their environment feels real, and for that reason I was glad that this particular animated feature wasn't a 3-D release. I think it would have intruded upon the connection between the viewer and the place, and more likely would have trivialized the story.
Because, if the PG-13 rating didn't clue you in, this is definitely not a movie for kids. In fact, the IMDB movie page calls it a "post-apocalyptic nightmare". While I think that's a bit of an overstatement, the fact is that death is ever-present in the film. Not in any overdone way (there's no blood or gore), but in the way that simply reminds the viewer that this is reality: people die.
As with most post-apocalyptic films, there is the obligatory warning to the human viewer about the dangers of 'the machine' (i.e. artificially intelligent weapons of war). But the message is never heavy-handed. There is spirituality in the film, but it never feels too contrived or overstated. The overall effect of 9 is wonder: as these new creations are discovering this world and trying to understand it, so are we.