Courses of life
One of the more surprising aspects of my ‘outreach’ schedule is tutoring a 16- year- old English missionary kid for his English and Sociology GCSEs. Today, in Sociology, we were talking about 'life courses' and significant events that impact and change someone’s life. As I looked at the list in the textbook, I realized how several of these key life events are happening in some way to our family…
My little tiny beautiful 5lb nephew, Isaac, was born at the weekend, Amelie’s first cousin. We met him today via skype, (the first of many skype dates I hope..) There is something almost awe-inspiring and fragile about new life, and of course I am biased, but tiny delicate Isaac in a oversized stripey baby-grow was no exception!
Then nearing the other end of the course of life, David’s sweet auntie Morag, an unassuming and easy-going lady in her 60s, was diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks ago, and within weeks it has spread from the lungs to the liver and now to the throat. Unless a miracle happens, she is nearing her last days and we are very sad to say goodbye.
...on a brighter note, David will be the best man tomorrow to his Ugandan friend, Martin’s, wedding. Martin is a unique guy, he has determination and drive and has really fought against the odds to seize opportunites, and make something of himself.
His manner is quite different from the Lugbura tribe around us in Arua- much more direct and blunt (sometime even a bit offensive..) Martin is marrying a girl from Jersey, UK, and they kindly enabled David to attend the wedding, which can also mean he can say goodbye to the aunt whilst in the UK for his whirlwind trip.
Needless- to- say, this has been one of the hardest weeks for me so far, feeling every one of the 8307 miles from some of the people we dearly love and are at different stages in their ‘courses of life.’
In Arua, we see and hear mainly about 2 life events: birth and death. Just the other day I was visiting the hospital with our friend Peter, and he pointed to a bed and said ‘that was where my sister died this year’ in a normal, unemotional voice. ‘what?!’ ‘when?!’ ‘how?!’ tumbled out my questions. But I suppose death is much more part of life here.
I guess when it boils down to it, that is what it is all about: life and death. I heard some good teaching recently about ‘perspective’ and having a positive and Godly perspective, and it has really challenged me on my own perspective towards life, my life, other people’s lives, how I see people and their situations… Much easier said than done, especially when it comes to praising not bad mouthing, noticing the beauty within the ugliness and letting the good thoughts go round and round my mind, rather than the worries, and so this is my ongoing daily challenge...
'Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me [Jesus], what you heard and saw and realized.'