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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.”

My recent art show at St. Mary Magdalene’s Episcopal Church in Seven Lakes was featured in The Pilot.  The proceeds from the show will purchase school supplies for the children in Tanzania.

karimu art show in pilot

A friend of mine  in (you guessed it), Tanzania often says:  “God is in the mess.”   Well, HE/SHE was in the mess today.

I had an appointment at 11 o’clock this morning in Fayetteville, N.C.  I arrived at 10:4o and the door to the office was locked.   Jessie had gone with me to do some shopping for Africa and had gone off with my car and her phone was on the fritz.  I checked my calendar thinking perhaps I had the wrong date.  Nope ~  11:00 on Tuesday, 23 June.

The next door neighbor came out to her car and I mentioned that I had an appointment but didn’t think anyone was home.  She offered to call and came back saying they had to be there because the phone was busy and then she came over to the deck and introduced herself.  When I told her my name she said:  “Any kin to Earl Parks Bandy?” Earl Parks was my husband’s brother.  She spoke of his gift for taking anything, ANYTHING and making something beautiful out of it, but then she asked me if I knew anything about different bible translations being a great lover of the KJV and not wanting any “modern” translations that might conflict with her beliefs.  I told  her what we use in the Episcopal Church and recommended some other translations as well.

She abruptly changed the subject and asked me what I thought of same-sex blessings.  Oh, my gosh, I thought ~ this subject that has deeply divided the church.  I took a deep breath feeling she was probably very much a fundamentalist and tried to temper my rather liberal views but finally told her that I felt that the church should bless couples, regardless of their sexual orientation if they were in a committed relationship.  Without warning she began to cry.  I mean, crocodile tears ran down her face.  “Oh, have my views offended you,” I asked.  She then said:  “My daughter is gay.”

In asking me to write the names of some translations  other than the KJV I wrote on the back of my Karimu business card and she asked what that was all about.  Without a blink of the eye she asked if she could make out a check to Karimu and she went back home to get her check book.    As I hugged the lady goodbye she said that we were supposed to have met today.  No one knew why the door was locked.  Perhaps God was in the mess.

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