Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls

By Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times:
"DOZENS of heavily armed terrorists rolled into the sleepy little town one night in a convoy of trucks, buses and vans. They made their way to the girls’ boarding school.
The high school girls, asleep in their dormitory, awoke to gunfire. The attackers stormed the school, set it on fire, and, residents said, then herded several hundred terrified girls into the vehicles — and drove off and vanished. 
That was April 15 in northern Nigeria.
These girls, ages 15 to 18 and Christians and Muslims alike, knew the risks of seeking an education, and schools in the area had closed in March for fear of terror attacks. But this school had reopened so that the girls — the stars of their families and villages — could take their final exams. They were expected to move on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers.
Instead, they reportedly are being auctioned off for $12 each to become “wives” of militants. About 50 girls escaped, but the police say that 276 are still missing — and the Nigerian government has done next to nothing to recover the girls."

#BringBackOurGirls is the movement for raising awareness of these missing young women. It's May 6th. They have been missing for 21 days. Twenty one sleepless nights, terrifying days--and God knows what else.

As a human being, I can't not recognize and realize the utter horror the parents of these children must feel. But I am literally on the other side of the world--my helplessness is seemingly complete.

And yet, tonight I was invited to join a group in a day of fasting and prayer for these girls. I was given a name, Hauwa Takai, to pray for. Hauwa is a child who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery, she is a person with hopes and dreams not unlike my daughter who sleeps safely in the next room.

Perhaps Hauwa dreams of becoming a scientist like my daughter. Perhaps she dreams of flying, traveling, healing, learning, loving and being loved in return. Perhaps Hauwa is looking up at the sky at this moment and hoping that this hell will be over soon. Who knows how many times she has breathed this wish in the last twenty-one days. And just maybe, she feels a tiny gleam of hope that her prayer will not go unanswered another day.

So I must pray. I must join my heart with hers and her mother's and father's and I write her name on my arm in permanent marker so I won't forget that she is breathing and hoping that her freedom is at hand.

If you would like to join us in a day of fasting and prayer (or whatever personal ritual you choose) please join us here: Bring Back Our Girls Day of Fasting & Prayer.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year Ago

One year ago we drove away from our beloved friends and our turn of the century Arts & Crafts home that was literally spattered with our blood, sweat and tears. The day the truck was loaded, I spent at the home of friend struggling between relief and sadness at leaving. There was a lot of laughter that day (mingled with tears) and as I turned the key for the last time on that door that groaned each time I opened or shut it, our next chapter began.

I wish I could say that this last year has been the best of my entire life. I wish I could say that our kids made a seamless transition into their new schools without tears. I wish I could tell you that in the last year of living here that I crossed off everything on my 40 by 40 list, mastered the samba, and joined a band. I wish I could tell you that the days have been unfolding unto me a "knowing"--that a wellspring of moments brighter than the sun at noonday have framed each waking moment with utter and complete joy.

Alas, there have been no illuminations of genius, no cosmic confetti erupting from a "new beginning". Ever the drama queen, I've been a little disappointed that the blue jays that dance between the branches behind our house don't break out into song when the sun rises or bring me needle and thread when I need to darn Mountain Man's socks. (FYI, I don't darn socks, but the gesture would be nice just the same.)

What has been revealed at the center of the last year has been solitude.

To be honest, I'm not great at stillness. For me to exercise stillness it requires four Advil P.M. and two shots of Nyquil. Quiet is not my strong suit.
But there is it, anyway, wanted or not: Solitude. Space. A wilderness.

And so I try. I try each day to remember that the wilderness does not last forever, that I will soon emerge from the long night of the forest; that the sun will rise over the distant hills, maybe even as soon as tomorrow. Until then, I get to be still and breathe deep and realize that (in the words of Zora Neale Hurston) "there are years that ask questions and years that answer."

I am trying to be still.