Pilgrims' Potpourri

Reflections on our journey with God

Let the little children come to me February 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — karedsol @ 6:11 pm

Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  Mark 10: 13-16

We departed Kenya yesterday, Feb. 25, traveling south to Arusha, Tanzania. Tanzania is home to the Masai tribe.  The Masai are pastoralists who migrate across the land with their cattle.  Like the other 120 tribes in Tanzania, the Masai have their own value systems, traditions, customs and food. The male elders are responsible for teaching the young men to become warriors. The women live in tight polygamous families which support and help one another in times of need. Masai women look after the home caring for the children and animals.  The Masai, as all cultures around the globe,  grapple  with the tension between their traditional values and ever changing world.

We spent most of today visiting the Emusoi Center for Masai girls in Arusha.  Founded a by Maryknoll sisters, the center serves over 350 girls from ages 11 to 23.  It offers an opportunity for Masai girls to receive an education, develop their talents and widen their horizons about their future. Some girls come with the support of their families; others come on their own initiative because they want an education to better understand the world as well as develop marketable skills and pursue careers.

We visited classrooms, listened to the hopes and aspirations of these girls and heard their their stories. We had lunch, .laughed,. danced and sang together. Eating, singing and dancing are powerful universal tools of communication. The smiles and joy in the heart of these kids was contagious.  There is no pressure to convert to Catholicism, yet many are so nurtured by the loving care they receive, they are attracted to Jesus by the witness of their staff,  A twenty year old told me that she left her family because she wanted to become a nurse and then return to her tribe to help them receive better medical care.

Below is a picture of the girls singing a traditional Masai song.  Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video, .  No wonder Jesus invited the children to come to. him.  He knew they were the very best seeds to build the reign of God.IMG_9944

 

 

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Where does God pitch the tent? February 25, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — karedsol @ 3:07 pm

In the gospel for the second Sunday of Lent, Peter, the apostle, wants to pitch three tents for Jesus, Moses,  and Elijah on the mountain where Jesus to their astonishment is transfigured before them.  Our little group of missionary disciples celebrated mass today at Christ the King Church in Kibera, .  The slum located in Nairobi  is one of the largest slums in the world housing an estimated 800,000 to a million people.  Like so many slums in the world, the residents live in shacks made of tin.  One 8 x10  shack can house 8-10 people. There is no indoor plumbing and electricity for some is through a jerry-rigged system of old wires..  The dirt streets and alleyways are strewn with litter, human and animal waste.  Yet each Sunday thousands of Catholics dressed in their best clothes make their way up a small hill at the top of the slum to Christ the King Church.  For several hours the parish community gathers to praise God with joyful song, pray with hopeful hearts, share one bread at the Lord’s table and give thanks for God’s many blessings.  After the celebration, we visited the homes of  three people. There was not enough room  for us to squeeze into these small dwelling so some had to stand outside.  We listened to the stories of the families, offered prayers and blessings for them and asked them to bless us.

That anyone should ever have to live is such deplorable conditions is a stain on our common humanity.   In today’s gospel, Jesus refuses to stay in a tent on a mountain. He instructs his disciples to go  into the whole world to proclaim the good news. The good news is that God pitches tents, not in churches or temples but in the heart of every person this planet. God has pitched tents in the slums, the streets, and the shelters. On the mountain, Jesus was transfigured becoming pure light, shining the radiance of that light for Peter, James and John,  He instructed them to go down that mountain and transfigure the world so that every person on this earth would experience God’s love and      that God’s justice would once again reign.  Jesus challenges you and me to be transfigured into the Light of Christ and then to transfigure our world so that every human being lives with dignity and slums are vanquished forever!

Kibera, Nairobi  Kenya

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And the rooster crowed February 23, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — karedsol @ 1:04 pm

 “”Then Peter began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the rooster crowed.”  Matthew 26:74

I left the Rensselaer train station yesterday February 21 at 11:00 am and after 15 hours  of air travel and a time difference of eight hours arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, Kenya at 10 pm last night. About 5 am this morning a rooster woke me from a restless sleep- a stark reminder that I was not  home anymore. . Upon reflection, maybe that rooster was God’s way of announcing to me to keep my eyes, ears and senses open while in Africa. Like Peter, we can deny Jesus in so many ways. We may not be as blatant in our denial, but there are many ways to deny the Lord.  How easy it is to forget Jesus is the reason for our very lives.  How easy it is to be distracted, disillusioned, disinterested in our work as Missionary disciples here on this planet with so much else competing for our attention,   How easy it is for life to become an endless series of projects, of doing, a whirling dervish of activity.  The rooster challenged me to stay awake, be watchful, look for the signs of God’s goodness all around me.   It is a message I need to here over and over again.  Although I am tired from this journey taking me 9,000 miles from my homeland, I am awake and look forward to the rooster crowing and celebrating God’s goodness and presence every morning.  It’s a good way to wake up and stay awake; to live each moment as if it was the only moment we have.

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Surrendering to the Lord February 21, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — karedsol @ 2:38 am

“Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave.” Matthew 10:9-11

Looking at two full suitcases and a carry-on, Jesus’s words to his disciples as they are sent out on mission echo in my brain.  My journey to Kenya and Tanzania begins tomorrow.  It is a long flight taking me 8,600 miles from home. Although I am not traveling as lightly as Jesus suggests, a mission trip presents a challenge to leave many things behind.  I pray for the grace to leave my preconceived notions, attitudes, and goals behind and to abandon myself to God’s providence.  It is so hard to let go and let God; to trust that God can do more with and for me than anything I could possibly accomplish myself.   It requires faith to set out on a journey that make take me in many directions and learn to flow with each moment, even when things don’t go as planned.  And yet there is a certain relief in releasing myself to God’s plan. I don’t need to control things or be in the lead.  I just need to take the back seat on the tandem bike and let the Lord do the pedaling.  Maybe that is why Jesus asks us to make the journey without a bag, sandals or staff.  Without things to bog us down, we can follow wherever the Spirit leads us.  Lead me, Lord; Lead me.

 

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