Saturday, December 26, 2009

Close to the earth. Close to one another.

The strong, dusty feet of women in Sudan remind me of how close to the earth these women live.  They have no closets full of shoes; in fact, they have neither closets nor shoes!

There is much that we in the West, nicely shod in our Nikes and Easy Spirits and Birkenstocks, no longer feel.  The sharpness of parched, cracked clay earth.  The intense heat that rocks hold from sun. The slip of dew on morning grass. The welcome squish of mud between toes when the rains finally come. The rhythmic thudding of bare feet packing down the soil when women gather to dance. The cool water that drips 'round the bore hole before dawn after it has been hand-pumped to the surface to fill a jerry-can.  The scratch of thorns and branches in the bush while walking, yes, walking hours and hours and hours to haul water or collect firewood or lead goats to pasture or visit a friend in a distant village.

Not feeling those simple things, we are perhaps also impaired in feeling our connectedness with these women in ways that matter even more.  Knowing that these are truly our sisters and mothers and daughters.  Choosing to share our resources with them. Realizing that our kinship can be a source of joy for us all.  This is what Mercy Beyond Borders is all about--helping us partner, spreading the joy.  THANK YOU for being a part of this wonderful work in 2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A child is born!

In less than 2 weeks, Christians around the world will celebrate the feast of Christmas, a reminder that God is always coming into our lives in quiet, surprising ways--as humble as the birth of a child, as surprising as the miracle of surviving great adversity.

For women in Southern Sudan , the very act of giving birth is fraught with danger. Those lucky enough to get to a medical clinic (by walking long distances) may find it lacks staff or medicines.  The woman pictured here had walked several days to reach the clinic at Kuron Peace Village. She birthed her child on a dirt floor with nothing stronger than Tylenol but in the company of caring friends.  A few hours later, she was up and walking back to her home village with her newborn!

So we reflect on the mystery and gift of life during this Holy Season, and we rejoice that Mercy Beyond Borders connects us all.  In this time of year, the three great Abrahamic faith traditions celebrate Eid, Hannukah and Christmas. Setting aside whatever divides us, let us this year together remember our blessings and thank God for the immense privilege of sharing our resources with women and girls in Sudan.

Blessings abound!