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At least a hundred years ago I directed a production of Hansel und Gretel at an elementary school in Virginia. One little child had a one-liner: “The wind, the wind, the heavenly wind,” and he could never get it quite right – sort of like the little boy playing the inn keeper during the Christmas pageant. When Mary and Joseph came up the church aisle he got so excited that rather than saying his one-line: “There is no room at the inn,” he blurted out: “Wecome, welcome, come on in, we have plenty of room.” It sort of blew the gospel account of Mary giving birth in a stable or a cave but it still excites the mind that the birth of any baby, and especially the Christ Child can engage and capture our hearts.

Wind is much on my mind these days because it comes up in the early hours of the morning – I mean like just before the rooster whom we have named Pavarotti, welcomes the new day, and it blows and blows and sometimes makes me think of storms at sea.

Shortly before I left for South Africa in 2007 the late Dr. Don Schulte, respected and loved by many of us, called me at home and said among several things that I had endured a seismic event in my life with the sudden death of Hank Franklin, the priest at Emmanuel whom I had worked with so faithfully and lovingly for many years. Further, Don said that I was entering a period of enormous transition and he urged me to go off to South Africa with an open heart and an open spirit. More than anything he told me to be attentive to the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this very different world from what I had known.

I think this year, two years later, I am more in-tune with the sounds and smells and sights. Landsamercy, last year I was too shocked to take in much of anything other than the poverty. I’m more relaxed this time – not as stunned, in fact mesmerized by the sights and events that we have been privileged to experience this year. Earlier we said we would probably not come back next year because of the global economy but already we are saying we want to come back next year.

Wood and charcoal fires, the African’s way of cooking is a natural aroma now. Mostly though I notice the quiet at night – Jessie doesn’t always agree because we hear drumming and singing long into the night from the girls’s secondary school nearby, but once they have called it a day, it becomes unearthly quiet – no traffic, no planes or trains, no sounds from things like refrigerators or televisions or even air-conditioners. Those sounds do not exist here. Occasionally we will here far in the distance the whine of a dog which rips at our souls. Mostly, it is grave-like quiet and it feels holy to me.

This should be two entries because there is another whole story to tell you about our dinner with the bishop last night and an ordination of 30 some men and women in a far off village. We left home at 7:30 and got back around 5:00. Don’t ever complain about services lasting more than an hour!

For now I will leave you with these words about wind.
“I am the wind; yes, the wind beneath my feet. I’ll keep rising up. From the way I stride to the whisper in my voice; it’s the wind carrying me and directing my flutter; directing every twist and turn. Yes, it’s the wind inside that uplifts my spirit daily. See the true freedom in my eyes, it’s my soul in the wind.”

For a number of years I wrote a monthly article in Emmanuel’s newsletter titled:  “From the Deacon’s Heart.”  Even though I was always struggling to meet deadlines, I realize that I have missed putting every day ponderings down on paper.  Now I have a blog with no deadlines.  Mind you, I hardly know what a blog is but thanks to Anna Franklin Smith, Hank’s daughter, we are learning the basics.  Someone said:  “You are a blogger.”  Shucks, I thought I was a deacon.

Today I thought about generosity and gifts.  In today’s mail was a sizeable check  for Karimu from a colleague and friend who is not exactly rolling in dough.  Some of you know him and he would be embarrassed to death if he knew I was writing about him.    He models self-giving to the point of sacrifice, although I’m sure he never thinks in those terms.    He has no cell phone, no answering machine, certainly no computer.  I don’t even think he subscribes to a newspaper.  He lives modestly and even into his 80’s volunteers at the hospital here in Pinehurst.   Jessie and I have been given much larger gifts and some smaller gifts for the people in Tanzania, all appreciated and all to be put to good use, but his gift touched me deeply because I suspect he could use the money himself.   The Africans are like this too.  They share whatever they have.  “Little is much when God is involved.”  Peace be unto you.

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