Tag Archives: Thailand

Small

This is the road

It is a ribbon running through the mountains

Glistening black in the rain, fading gray in the sunlight

Checked with yellow, edged in white

Swooping and diving between and around the mountains

Like a swallow homing forever.

The road carries me down into the valley

Into the shade of forest, dusky and dark,

Curving in the lowlands, trapped and winding,

Now, suddenly it flings me arching up, up, up into the heights

Floating on a ridge on the top of the world,

A patchworked world of fields and villages

Some intricate masterpiece quilted by skillful hands;

Along the sunlit crest the road flies until we twist and turn,

Turn down dizzying curves to reach the river

The brown, brown river running swollen from the rain.

The river and the road take me away, and the sun splashes

Through the canopy of wild trees, spilling flickering light on the road

As it moves along the woodlands

Past a pregnant goat grazing by the way, and a field of buffalo,

Past smoke rising gray against the blue and green,

And mountains upholding a bluing sky until a

Sudden flood of rain; and inside my pink raincoat and visor,

I become a kingdom of myself, a muffled, moving, pink kingdom.

But the rain ceases

And a sudden orange of blossoms bursts against the sodden sky

The road is not a ribbon.

It is a gray and yellow asphalt snake, and I am a beetle riding on its back.

(Inspired by my bike trip to Mae Hong Son today (and other trips similar to it)).

A rural gas station. I love places like this to fill up since you usually can have fun conversations with the owner. Photo credit: Abby Martin
Abby Martin and I on a recent trip

Munich, Germany (Vignettes of a Journey #7)

Someday I would like to visit Munich when I am NOT jet-lagged and cold.

On my way back to Thailand, I flew from Wichita to Denver, and from Denver to Munich, Germany, where I had a 13 hour layover. I visited Dachau Concentration Camp and several different churches in Marienplatz area in the city center of Munich.

I told some friends that I would write about my time in Germany and give some details on it, in case anyone else wants to try to do a layover like this. I struggled with knowing what to write and what to omit since I don’t like to post something with thousands of details, and yet when I was preparing for my trip, I found posts like that extremely helpful. So, if you don’t enjoy the details, skip them and enjoy the pictures instead. (Apology: I only had my phone camera which is the budget phone type and does not give very good quality photos either, so just take it as is 🙂 ).

Since I was vaccinated in Thailand and my Thai vaccination certificate was originally not accepted by Lufthansa when I sent it my documents for a pre-boarding check online, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into the country because of Covid restrictions. When I checked in in Wichita, I was asked for both my vaccination papers and my negative Covid test. In Denver, I was only asked for my certificate, and in Munich when I went through immigrations, the officer did not ask me for either one. So, if you ask me if you need to be vaccinated to enter Germany, I think the answer is yes, but it also probably depends on the officer who stamps your passport.

I had 2 hours of sleep on the flight from Denver to Munich, so I was rather tired the entire time I was there. Ok, rather is too soft a word. It was more like exhausted. When I landed in Germany, upon boarding, I just followed the signs to the baggage claim instead of the signs marked transfer. Just before the baggage claim, I went through immigration. There I gave my passport to the officer. She asked me a few questions and gave me my stamp in my passport. From there, I headed to the bathroom and repacked my bags. I got all the stuff out of my backpack that I needed for my time outside of the airport and then put my backpack into my carry on, taking only my purse with me.

I made a few mistakes, like leaving the airport before stowing my bags that I didn’t want with me. In Switzerland, the place to leave the baggage was just on the other side of the airport, and I was thinking this would be the same thing. Instead, it was inside the airport. For anyone doing the same thing, as soon as you leave customs and the “point of no return” look for signs saying, “Service Center.” Follow those signs and you will find the service center where the guy takes your baggage and gives you a slip and reminds you not to lose it. You will pay when you return to pick it up. The service center closed at 9 PM, so do NOT come back after that hour if you have a flight leaving in the night and need your luggage. It might be a good idea to ask for sure what the closing time is since it might be different from mine.

Next you want to get your ticket. You can actually get this inside the airport, but I got mine in the subway station. I had written out some instructions on what kind of ticket I needed, and was very glad I did so, even though a few more details would have been appreciated. Watch for electronic machines where you get your own ticket. On the screen, tap the flag that stands for English (I assume, if you are reading this blog, you speak English) and then tap the square that says MVV. This will open up the options of the different kinds of ticket that you will need. Choose the Munich Zone M5 ticket, which is also called the Airport City Day pass. Also be sure to get a day ticket, also known as Tageskarten instead of an Einzelfahrtkarten, which is a single journey ticket. If you get the day ticket, you can ride any bus and S-Bahn trams/subways for one full day until 6 AM the next day. (This does not include the regular railroad). If you are traveling by yourself, get a single day ticket. If you are traveling with a group, you can get a group ticket.

The subway entrance is located across from the airport exit. Follow the signs for the S-Bahn, or sometimes it might just be an S logo in a circle. Once you are inside the subway, you will want to get the S1 train or the S8 train to go to Hauptbahnhof (also known as Munich Central Station). Make sure you are taking the train in the right direction. One tip that I found helpful was searching on google maps how to get from the airport to the Munich Central Station via tram. Google maps will show all different stops that you will make. This gave me a bit of assurance that I was going the right way.

I took the S8 subway/tram from the airport to Munich Central station, and then from there took the S2 train (in the direction of Petershausen) to Dachau station. There are also other ways to go there, but this seemed the simplest so I chose that. I did get mixed up in the Munich Central Station and got on the S2 train that was actually going back the way I came, so I had to do it all over again. If you go from Munich Central station to Dachau make sure the sign says Petershausen or Dachau. Or you can ask someone. I felt like in general the trains and the monitors with times and directions were much better marked than the Metro in NYC. I rode the S2 train to Dachau. There I got off the train and, following everyone else, walked under the tunnel and went to the sign that said, Bus 726, which was very clearly marked. To get to the concentration camp, you can also walk along the Path of Remembrance, which marks the same path that many of the prisoners took when walking from the station to the camp. On another less jet-lagged day, I would have preferred taking this path instead of the bus, but knowing that I needed to conserve my energy, I took the bus. The bus stops there at the station for at least 5 minutes and then headed to the camp.

At the camp, I wanted to get an audio guide since I had read that it was worth it, but since I didn’t have any Euros for a deposit, I was not allowed to do so.

Visiting the camp was surreal, but again, I would have gotten more out of it had I not been so tired and cold. In my state of exhaustion I felt very numb and emotionless.

It was worth it, though. Now in my mind, I can see the way the camp looked. It was also a fresh reminder of how quickly human society can disintegrate into brutality. I kept on wondering how I would have responded had I been living in Germany during that time. It’s easy to think that I would have done the right thing, but would I have had the perception and discernment needed, not to mention the courage?

A replica of the door at the entrance of the camp that says, “Arbeit macht Frei.” (Work makes free.)
I understand this area was where roll call took place.
A work of art in the shape of the Nazi symbol
Each time a prisoner entered Dachau, a tally was taken of the items the prisoner owned.
A guardhouse
The washroom
The bathrooms
This was the lane between the barracks. Most of the barracks have been removed except for two that stand as a part of the museum display.

I had originally planned to stay 2 hours, but I was tired and cold. I took the 726 bus back to Dachau station, and from there took the S2 train back to Munich in the direction of Markt Schwaben. Instead of getting off at Munich Hauptbahnhof, however, I went two stations past to Marienplatz.

At the station in Marienplatz, I tried to use the bathroom. I say tried because you needed to pay Euro in order to use it and I didn’t have any. There was a slot to insert a card, but it wouldn’t accept mine. I found this extraordinarily annoying. I mean, when you can’t even find a place to use the bathroom, what kind of day is that?

Climbing the stairs out of the underground Marienplatz station, I was stunned. Suddenly, I was thrust into a world that looked like a snapshot from the 1500s. A drizzle was falling, and sprawling architecture rose up on all sides of me.

Peterskirche, or St. Peter’s Church, was first on my list, so I went there. This church is known for its tower from where you have a beautiful view of the city and can see the Alps on a clear day. However, when I got to the church, a service was going and I couldn’t find the place where you could actually go up to the tower. (Only later did I discover online that there was another entrance I could have tried.) I sat in on the service a bit and had so much fun listening to the German and comparing it to the German I knew.  I caught words like “Barmherzigkeit,” and “ess gibt kein elend….” Many of the words in the sermon were easier for me to catch than the street German I had heard earlier because I grew up reading the Bible in German and listening to it in church.

Part of the reason I didn’t try very hard to go up the tower in Peterskirch was because I wanted to climb the tower at Frauenkirche just as much or more, so I decided that I would do that instead. On my way to Frauenkirch, however, I stopped at a café for some food and coffee, and use a bathroom. The café was packed full, however, and it took me a long time to order and pay and stand in line for the bathroom. I was also reminded how different the German culture is from our culture. I tend to think that because the language is similar to mine, and because we are Caucasian, the culture must be similar. The people seemed much more self-assertive than what I was used to. Everything seemed to simply be 15 degrees different than what I expected. Even the bathrooms were odd, and I found myself getting a little grouchy about some of the differences, until I realized it and gave myself a talking to. After finally getting finished in the bathroom and figuring out how to get the door open again, I ordered some coffee in the café to eat with my cheese bread. The lady who got my coffee spoke only German to me. I could follow what she meant, but found answering harder. When I ordered, she asked me if that was all. I recognized that word, “alles,” and nodded and said, “Alles, ka.” (Ka is a polite word used at the end of a sentence when speaking Thai). After that I decided to simply speak Pennsylvania Dutch in return if they spoke German to me. It seemed every time that I tried to speak German, the Thai part of my brain went into high gear and spewed out words instead. After I got my coffee, I asked if she knew where I could buy an umbrella.

“Oh,” she said, “I have one right here!” So, she sold me an umbrella made of clear plastic that said, “I love Munich,” and I marched out proudly in the rain holding my coffee under my umbrella. I was very happy by now, since the coffee helped with my grumpiness, and I love rain, and what better way to explore Germany than from under an umbrella in the rain?

Me on a temporary boost from the coffee and happy in the rain with my umbrella, which was clear which made it a bit hard to see.

Next, I went to Frauenkirche, but because I had spent so much time buying my cheese bread and coffee and umbrella and trying to figure out how to get in and out of the bathroom, it was already after 4.30 which meant the towers of the church were closed. That made me quite sad. Frauenkirche was much less ornate than Peterskirche. Not too far from there, I also found another church called St. George’s Church. It wasn’t on my list of places to go, but I stepped in anyway. I found this one to be the most beautiful of the three churches I had visited.

The towers at Frauenkirche
The bells at Frauenkirche
Some of the architecture at St George’s Church

I had originally hoped to visit Munich Residenz, which was a former royal palace located not far from Marienplatz, but I was getting running out of coffee and inspiration. As I walked along the street with my umbrella, listening to the church bells and the music from the street bands, it seemed perfect. I love rain and I love umbrellas and old cities with history. But I didn’t want to stay. All I wanted to do was go home and take a hot bath and curl up with a good book and open up my living room windows and watch the rain in Munich from there. Or sleep.

Marienplatz

But I couldn’t go home. So, I went back to the airport. I took the S1 or the S8 back. I am not sure which, but it went without mishap. I slept on the way back and talked with the man on the seat opposite of me who was visiting from England.

I picked up my luggage, and went to my gate early.

*note: one piece of advice. For anyone planning to do a jaunt out of the airport on a Munich layover, or in any other foreign country, the best thing to do is to plan ahead. This may vary according to personality and travel experience, but when you only have a short time in a country, every minute counts and every minute that you waste trying to figure out how to get from one place to the other is one minute less of exploring. This article is by no means an exhaustive commentary on a Munich layover. For more information, google “what to do on a layover in Munich,” and you should have all sorts of articles at your fingertips. On both my Switzerland and Munich layover, I mapped out my route beforehand and how I would get from one place to another and was glad for every single bit of research I had done before entering the country.

Of Reach and Mennonites and Lancaster and Boxes and Shoo Fly Pie (Vignettes of a Journey #5)

A few days ago, here in Hutchinson, KS, I went with my aunt for her weekly chemo treatment at the local clinic. We were waiting in front of the elevator when the door opened and three elderly ladies disembarked. Upon seeing us, the one immediately exclaimed, “Oh, my ladies from Yoder!” The next one saw us and exclaimed as well, “Oh, I love Yoder. We spend a lot of money in Yoder.” And they chattered away about Yoder without giving either of their subjects the time or airspace to say, “Well, actually, we are not from Yoder. We are from Hutchinson.” (Yoder is a small town about 12 miles southeast of the Hutchinson area. The Amish in that area are more “well-known” by tourists than the Amish in the Hutchinson area).

Anyone from Yoder will quickly correct you if you think they are from Hutchinson. Anyone from Hutchinson will do the same. We are quite different, in our minds anyway. But to the non-Anabaptist outsider, we are basically the same.

I experience the same thing when in Thailand and a fellow American discovers my roots. A common remark is usually similar to this, “Oh, then you must be from Pennsylvania!” And such comments follow such as, “I’ll bet your mom makes the best shoo fly pie.” When I say, “No, I am actually from Kansas, and I don’t think my mom has ever made shoo fly pie,” their brow inevitably wrinkles and they blink several times as if to say, “She is confused by her transplant into Thai culture. She actually is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and eats shoo fly pie on a daily basis, but she is simply confused.”

Actually, I have only been to Lancaster twice in my life, which would come as a shock to the aforementioned fellow Americans, who consider Lancaster to be the hub of all that is Amish and Mennonite. And it probably is.

My second time in Lancaster was just last month at REACH, which is an Anabaptist missions conference held every 2 years in Lancaster, PA. REACH is a stark reminder of how many different stripes of Anabaptists exist. I should make sure to say that not all the people who attended REACH this year were from Lancaster and I am sure thousands of Lancasterites did not make it to REACH.

I am sure that the ones who organized REACH this year did not do it to show off all the different sub-denominations of Anabaptists that exist. I am sure that they planned REACH in order to give God glory. And it certainly did.

But forgive me if I marvel a little. After spending 7 and a half years in the tropics of Thailand where the sighting of a Mennonite causes no less excitement than a UFO streaking across the night sky on a summer’s eve, it is overwhelming to spend 2 days at a mission’s conference with 2500 Anabaptists.

It is rather like eating 5 meals of pizza after subsisting on rice and spicy minced pork for 2 years.

Or like drinking a gallon of chocolate milk after you have been drinking Pepsi all your life.

Or like reaching a desert island in the middle of the ocean after you have been at sea for 5 years. You should be overjoyed at being on land once more, and you are with one part, but another part of you longs for the jostling of the waves once more.

Doing REACH is especially mind-boggling if you do it while you are jet-lagging after an 11 hour time change. Jet-lag has a way of bringing out the worst in you, whether it is feeling totally void of emotion and energy at 2 in the afternoon, or whether it’s giggling helplessly and immaturely at an ill-timed comment during one of the regular sessions at REACH.

Even with all of the overwhelmingness, I really did enjoy REACH.

The three things I enjoyed most was reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and attending the breakout sessions. I got to stay at my friend Abby’s house, and go out to eat with my childhood friend, Tina. I got to see Judi and Barbara and Diana and Rosa. And I will stop listing names there, because soon I will offend someone for not putting their name on the list.

Then there was meeting new people. People that stopped by the INVEST booth who knew so and so who used to live in such and such a place. People who were friends of a friend, or who had spent time in Thailand years ago, or parents of a friend, like Amy’s mom and Abigail’s parents. I met someone I had been told various times I should meet, and then found out she had been told the same about me.

And the breakout sessions. The general sessions were good too, but the breakout sessions tended to be more informal and specifically tailored. I got to listen to my good friend, Janelle, speak on mentoring young women, and then another good friend, Carolyn, speak on discovering steady joy in a life of following. Another of my favorites was a workshop by Allan Roth, on the advantages and disadvantages of being an Anabaptist on the mission field.

Between all these delights, I sat behind the table at the INVEST booth and watched all the different tribes and kindreds and tongues of Anabaptists stream past and enjoyed talking with some of them. Being on the more conservative end of the Anabaptist spectrum at a mission’s conference has interesting consequences because of the tendency to be put in a box. I find this strangely enervating, and yet at the same time exhausting, since shattering preconceived notions can be somewhat exhilarating and yet you do get tired of jumping out of the boxes that hundreds of people put you in. Can I not just be me and not the box you put my church constituency in? Yet, I realize that Anabaptists thrive by placing people, and figuring them out, and well, putting them in boxes. I do the same and in some ways it is a natural human instinct. One of my teachers once called it a survival instinct.

Once REACH was over, we spent a groggy evening at Janelle’s house and then she drove us back to Abby’s house.

That night I went to sleep dreaming that I was trying to find a breakout session in the church where REACH was held, and using Google maps to find it.

New York City (Vignettes of a Journey #4)

And by what charm do you claim to have

Dared to woo a country lass

Of western prairies and slow-going German stock?

Perhaps it was your soaring lines and arches,

The splendor of the gleaming lights,

The haunting cords of history woven,

Or your many-colored children.

What charm, I cannot rightly say,

But this I know,

I long to live your streets in the glimmer of the rain.

I flew from Zurich to JFK, arriving in New York on Monday evening, March 21. My sister, Sara, and a friend flew from Kansas to meet me where we toured NYC for a day and a half and then traveled by train to Lancaster, PA for REACH conference on the 24th and 25th. We stayed in Brooklyn, visited the Ministry Training Center in Queens, stopped in close to Times Square for lunch, rode the Staten Island Ferry, visited the 911 memorial, and finished off with Brooklyn Bridge. I am not counting all the various detours we took in trying to find our way through the city subways. It was a bit exhausting after having flown in from Thailand, but we loved every minute of it. Ok, well, the aching feet we didn’t love.

Zurich (Vignettes of a Journey #3)

I walk along the narrow streets cobbled and silent in early morning

Wondering at how the many years have flown, and I,

I have come back over the ages from a pilgrimage far through the tangled vines of history

Back to where a part of my soul was born.

Echoes from these ancient roads speak to my blood

Stirring the fire within me, the old, old fire from the masters of that age;

And as I walk, I feel the ghosts of yesteryear speaking

The flames of the old beliefs that turned history on edge;

And as I gaze upon the streets and the river where these ancestors lived and died,

I feel their eyes upon me as I walk, and I wonder what they see.

In Grossmunster church, I run my hands over the back of  the wooden pew and sit

Beneath the shadow of the faces in the stained-glass windows

Where Zwingli and Grebel and Manz once stood; and suddenly time is no longer a wall between us

Because men still kill in the name of faith, and the difference between zeal and truth

Is too often undiscerned while factions war against factions, both in word and deed,

Uncaring of the blood that is shed within the church itself, despite the legacy of sacrificial love,

Yes, love, that was mingled with truth and baptized by fire and water.

The words on the wall come alive as the church itself speaks:

Herr, bleibe bei uns, denn ess will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneigt.

I will sit here under the shadow of these walls and wonder for many years.

I had a 7 hour layover in Zurich, Switzerland, and took the chance to make a dream of mine come true. I had about 3 and a half hours in the city itself. Perhaps some other day I will write a post on how to do a short layover in Switzerland.

Mae Sariang (#1 Vignettes of a Journey)

Dawn

The sun rises, one fiery eye

From behind the drought-scarred mountains

Wreathed with smoke

Noon

The heat whispers in the cornfields

Burning its secrets in the ground

Writhing around the withered stalks

Afternoon

The dry wind catches the fallen leaves

Pushes its heat into a dust devil and

Twirls the leaves to the tops of the trees

Twilight

Fire licks in V’s in the ridges, up and down

Fire rings the valley about

Fire on the mountains

Midnight

The Tukay laughs and calls on the porch

A confused rooster crows

And the cat sprawls on the cool tiles

Although all photos are mine, and were taken in the Mae Sariang disctrict, several of the ones with fire, as well as the Tukay were taken last year, some up at Saohin.

The next series of posts will be vignettes of a journey as I travel from Thailand to the States, Lord Willing and I don’t catch Covid, on Sunday evening. This includes a 6 hour layover in Switzerland, a day and a half in NYC, 3 days in Lancaster, PA at the Reach conference, and then home to Kansas for several weeks, and then flying back to Thailand in late April, with a 12 hour layover in Germany. If anyone comes to Reach, be sure to stop by the INVEST booth, which will be right beside IGo and MTM’s booth. I am holding all these travels in an open hand and trusting God (or trying to, I should say) to orchestrate this all ( and keep me from catching Covid before travel, since many of my acquaintances have had it recently).

Visiting Saohin

I drove up to Saohin for Children’s Day. Along with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Thailand also celebrates Children’s Day.

All last year, I had hoped to find a time and way to go visit Saohin again, but during the rainy season, it is very unwise to travel up alone on a motorbike and it was difficult to find a truck going up on Friday and coming down on Sunday, over the time I wouldn’t be working. Most people come down on Friday and go back up on Sunday.

So, when the invitation came to join in the Children’s Day activities on January 8, I jumped at the chance. Since it hadn’t rained for about 2 months, there was no flood danger and the creeks had returned to safe levels.

I learned and relearned many things about myself on this trip. I learned that when you are used to something it automatically looks much more doable. Like taking cold showers. And crossing creeks on a 110cc Honda Wave motorbike. And going up and down steep, stony hills. When I first came off the blacktop and got to that first frightfully steep hill, and the first stony part, and then the first creek, inside I thought, “This is worse than before.” But when I drove back 2 days later after over 30 kilometers of driving, I thought, “This is not so bad.”

I rediscovered the beauty of driving in first gear. There is something deeply satisfying about coming to an obstacle that gives you that jolt of fear— a deep creek, a steep hill- and then knowing deep inside yourself that you can do it. You can climb this hill, you can cross this creek. Especially when you put your bike into first gear. When you put your bike in first gear, you can do anything. Well,… ok, not quite. But going down some hills it is unwise to brake much because of the loose gravel and stones. Instead, you drop into first gear and ride your bucking bronco to the bottom. And the next day, as you rub your aching muscles, you wonder if you really had to get to the bottom quite that fast.

Different people find different things therapeutic. For my mom, it’s the garden. For some of my friends, it’s coloring and watercolors. For others, it’s creating. Horseback riding used to be my choice of therapy at home. I think that’s why I find that driving my motorbike in the mountains is therapy for me. That and writing.

I rediscovered how much fear can have an impact on my abilities. If I focused on not falling, or not getting wet, or not getting my bike stuck in the creek, I lost my sense of balance, and my sharpness of mind. But when I told myself that falling was not the worse thing in the world, or getting wet wasn’t really that bad, and if I got stuck then I would surely find a way out, things really went much better. I also realized how important it is to know your limits.

Arriving at Saohin brought a surge of grief for me. You would think I would only feel a surge of joy, but I felt more grief than joy. After poking the feeling a bit, I realized it was because I was coming as a visitor. I could no longer claim this place as my home. I was not going to stay there the next week and the next week and be a part of the flow of life and the daily routine. I was a visitor.

I woke up Saturday morning, aching and sore from the drive. Children’s Day was limited to only students and teachers, (and me) because of Covid restrictions. The children were glad to see me, but shy. I missed the 6th graders, who I had gotten to know the best. Towards the end of the day, they were warming up and not quite so shy.

The festivities were over by early afternoon so I took a nap and tried to get rid of a headache and then visited a former 6th grader.

The evening consisted of a campfire at the teacher’s house and making bamboo rice over the fire, doing some target practice with a 22, and some other activities that I did not participate in. Anyone who has had any experience with Thai mountain culture will be familiar with the drinking that happens nearly every evening. I went to bed around 10, but the sounds continued until midnight.

Sunday, I traveled down again. As I traveled down again, I felt an unsettled, unfinished feeling. I wished I could have stayed a little longer. I think I would have found more closure. I wanted to be a part of life there again, not just some visitor. Fragments of faces and places clung to the edges of my mind, even as I focused on the road ahead of me.

There was PaunSawan and her hair cropped close because of lice.

Pongsatorn, a tall, thickset boy, who struggles with learning. He gets heckled for it as well, even from the teachers.

Cholita, the girl from Myanmar, who is studying in first grade as well.

Oranit, a bright, spunky girl, whose father is one of the village leaders, and a devout Catholic.

Tawin and his shy, sheepish grin.

Di Di, and the way he used to jump around shouting out English words during vocabulary games.

Sawinee, with her large wistful eyes and sad face.

Kai Muk with her sparkle and laughter.

Paunyinee, who asked to take pictures together.

But maybe it’s ok to still grieve, to not have fully moved on from that little spot tucked into the edge of no-man’s-land.

Kayah State, Christmas Eve 2021

Over these hills, sing the song,

Sing it over again.

That Immanuel is come, is come,

Is come to the world of men.

Up from the valley, down from the mountains

Sing it in darkest hour

Of peace on earth, of peace on earth,

Of goodwill of greatest power—

Oh, but now, my friend, hush your singing

And be still in this crippling pain

Come grieve among the ones who grieve

And weep with the weeping rain;

For from the shadows of these Burmese hills

Comes a wail that pierces heaven’s door

For Rachel still weeps, weeps for her children

Her children who are no more.

See the story of the Christmas Eve massacre in Myanmar here. While we safely celebrated Christmas in our homes, thousands of people fled conflict in the neighboring country. Please pray for Myanmar.

Image by seth0s from Pixabay

Ritual

Each morning breaks the same,

Rising with a hunger that carves

Like the slanting fingers of sunlight cutting

Through the fog that shrouds the neighbor’s burnt field.

Through the night, the fog settled deep in the valley

Bleeding dew on the fire-scorched ground;

I reach for coffee, two spoonfuls in the filter

Watch while the black liquid drips into the waiting cup;

The scalding brew stirs the restless throb

I trace the words that tremble on the page and pen the ache–

Read this my Lord— this hunger, this hollowness,

This burnt ground, this empty cup, my song to You.

Who are you anyway?

I begin this draft nervously.

Honestly, I don’t know many of the people who follow this blog. Random emails sign up, and every now and then someone I know hits the follow button. But the latter are few.

Somehow it is easier writing to a faceless audience. You can write fearlessly and without restraint or worry that you will offend someone. If you do offend someone, then you didn’t know at the time that they were going to be offended. And while I don’t have a lot of offensive posts on this blog, there are some opinions boiling inside of me that I might write about in the future and it would be easier if I didn’t know you.

However, my curiosity has won out. I really would like to know who you are. Plus, I feel like I talk about myself a lot and I would rather hear from you.

It’s been 7 years since insearchofabrook was launched. Because I don’t post or share my blog on social media, the amount of followers is still quite low. But I do know (from people telling me) that some haven’t hit the follow button, but they check the blog every now and then to see if I’ve updated.

So, whether you are one of those mysterious people who stop in and visit without following, or if you have signed up for email updates, or if you actually follow this site with wordpress, I would love to hear from you.

And because it can be awkward to introduce yourself, here are some optional questions for you to answer. Don’t feel like you have to answer them all, especially if you feel shy. Choose which ones you want to answer, and if you want to add more than that, that would be great!

  1. What is your name and where are you from?
  2. How did you find my blog?
  3. Do you know me from anywhere? Or do you happen to be my dad’s cousin’s husband’s sister’s daughter?
  4. Do you have a favorite book you would recommend?
  5. What do you find most interesting on my blog and why?
  6. Is there anything you would be interested in hearing me write about?
  7. Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
  8. Is there anything else you would like to say…??

And now, she crosses her fingers and feels like a self-conscious second grader slipping a card to a new friend…. what if they don’t answer?