Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grateful Heart

This is my third attempt to write this post today. I won’t foist the first and second upon you, because they are both rather dreary contemplations of how truly baffling and heart-breaking I find poverty at this moment. I’m not sure what to say on that without giving you the whole sordid story, but let’s put it this way: I am stuck trying to balance a) the “big picture” route of dealing with poverty through sustainable solutions in aid and development long-term work with b) the imperative need to figure out how should I face the street children and mentally ill people living on my street, for whom my presence here in Madagascar does not seem to have much of a tangible benefit.

See? Dreary.

So rather than arguing aid practice theories with myself here, I’m going to take a whole new direction than versions 1.0 and 2.0. I’ve been dancing between complete bewilderment and frustration lately. There are days that I think, “where the heck am I!?” BUT there are also days that I think, “I am in freaking Madagascar!”

Today was not one of those days, unfortunately.

But today did offer a lot of good things and I think at this point I need to be active in cultivating that wonder and excitement rather than staring at the fields and hope it will magically grow. Last week a British friend recounted the American she knew who made everyone share his or her “grateful heart.” We laughed about it, but there is value in it, as cheesy as it may be. One of the things that is a direct hit to the discouragement that I seem to be entertaining too often, is to recount the things that have been very good gifts (and acknowledging the gift giver in the process, which will be the main point). These things are signs that I am not left hanging, despite what I let myself believe.

So here we go – in no particular order I thank God for:
- Utown (Oh, am I thankful!), and that I could find a place here in Tana to fill the void that is left by not having that community. First time attendee today at Tana City Church.
- Writers, particularly Mark Buchanan when he wrote the Holy Wild. Even the Preface was hitting home this afternoon. Apparently I need to read more.
- Rachel – obviously one of my favourite people in general – but today particularly, for being the person who taught me how to make quiche, and thereby giving me a very top notch supper despite being 15,000 kms away.
- A lovely taxi driver named Tina, right outside my gate this morning, with his fair prices
- A job. I have a job.
- A safe ride home last night
- Gentle reminders about what I am owed (nothing) and provided (everything)
- That prayer is a conversation. There was a response there, and I need to remember that
- Sleep – and on that note, it’s time for me to put myself to bed after a very long 20 hrs.