Friday, June 27, 2008

I met a woman from Burundi

Florence Ntakarutimana is doing astounding and courageous work in Rwanda with the program Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities, sponsored by Quaker groups including the African Great Lakes Initiative. I missed her talk to our whole Illinois Yearly Meeting but learned from her in worship sharing. HROC brings together Hutus and Tutsis to acknowledge the trauma that the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s brought to so many, mourn it, find appropriate ways to express anger and rebuild trust. Forgiveness is not necessary, though it could happen. Florence speaks four languages: Kinyarwandan (the language of Rwanda), French, English and Swahili. The theme of our annual yearly meeting, and hence of the worship sharing, was reconciliation. Florence prays and she listens. That's how she does her work. Her faith impressed me.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Green vacation, day one

This year no 3,000 mile drives to northern Maine. My family and I are doing day trips and using public transportation. We drew up a list of places around Chicago that will delight and edify. Yesterday's destination: Starved Rock State Park near Utica. Starved Rock is formed of St. Peter sandstone, which is pretty soft as rocks go. In the canyons you can see the layers that have been worn through as you inspect the rock walls. (The picture looks like LaSalle Canyon.) It had rained the day before, so the waterfalls and streams were running verdantly well. Andrew's good eye spotted a cedar waxwing. Also a tiny snake that stuck its tiny tongue out at us, two deer in a roadside meadow, many millipedes on the march, a blue butterfly. The flowers were stunning: yellow iris, native columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, spiderwort, pinks, wild geranium. Small sunny patches in the forest held bouquets of late spring flowers. The kids explored and got wet, the adults named things. It took an hour to get there, a green place to visit in a green way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The appearance of the bull

changes once you enter the ring. That also comes from Johns Hopkins ethicist Thomas Finucane, whom I heard speak. A friend's father is coming to terms with the end of his life, and is hospitalized. She reports he said this: Do you want to die? hospital staff had asked him, seeking to ascertain his wishes. No, he responded. Do you? Only the terminally unhappy volunteer to leave, and their judgment is not sound.