Sunday, 21 October 2012

Loss and how little I know of it

This week I have been smacked in the face by stories of grief and loss. The week began with the death of the old King of Cambodia. A national day of mourning was declared for a King who was loved by his people. Seven days later, streets are still blocked and horns do not beep around the Royal Palace. The strange silence declares their mourning. Many Khmer are dressed only in black and white to show their respect. Monks are still chanting throughout the day. The country still weeps.

With all of this occuring I was talking to one of our staff - light discussions about our families and our 'homelands'. She went on to tell me that her only surviving family is her older sister. Her parents and both of her brothers have died. She said this, and then went on to smile and joke around with me, seemingy unfazed by the losses she has experienced in her mere 23 years.

I then look at a young girl I know. Within the space of a year she lost her mother and a sister to a disease that is also slowly killing her. Within this time she also lost another sister to drowning. Yet her face rarely shows the pain of these losses. A smile covers the hurt.

Another girl told a story of being one of eight children. At 14 years old, she is the only surviving child. Disease and poverty claimed the lives of all of her siblings.

As I hear these stories and so many others, I am overwhelmed by the losses that the people in this country have faced. I cannot even fathom losses to that extent; to lose the majority or all of my family members; to be so accustomed to loss that is no longer feels out of the ordinary; to be so numbed to loss because having to feel all of that would tear you apart.

In the same moments I feel totally unequipped to be teaching about these concepts - loss and grief. What do I know about these? How do I even begin to touch on the pain, the broken hearts, the scars of memory?

As much as I don't have the experience of them, don't have that knowledge of such deep pain and loss, I hold those stories. I shed tears for them. My heart breaks for them.

I sit. I listen. I hold. That is all I can do. That is all I need to do.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Ghosts, Family, Prayer

This weekend/week in Cambodia is Pchum Ben festival. The festival goes for up to two weeks and is a time in Cambodia where the people pay their respects to their dead ancestors. The Khmer people believe that at this time the gates of hell open up and the ghosts of their relatives are very active. Food offerings are made to these relatives to avoid them cursing you for the next year. The Buddhists also believe that ancestors who are residing in heaven also benefit in some way from these offerings.

This is a time in the nation of both beauty in seeing such community and family-togetherness. However it is also a time of spiritual heaviness and fear among many people. It is not uncommon to be awoken at 3am to the sounds of chanting or wailing as the monks chant throughout the night. In a nation that already has a spiritual heaviness, times like these festivals are especially oppressing.

Please pray over this nation during this time. Please also pray over those of us who are working within the nation. My dream is to see a time like this, of beautiful community, to be a time centered around Christ. A time where people come together to celebrate God's goodness with their family and community. A time where God is praised for who He is.

I declare that over this nation and ask that you do too.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thoughts on Healing

Today I was pondering the concept of healing. What does it look like? How does one know that they are there?

Or is it maybe that healing is experienced in each step we take in living in this crazy life. A choice to move forward. A choice to walk beyond. A choice to live.

Our feet may carry some dust from the past, but that in itself does not hinder us. The act of walking forwards has broken off the heavy, solid chunks of mud that had held us down. Maybe some people have helped break that off along the way. But in time, all that remains is dust.

I don't know when it is that my feet will be washed. Or if that is even needed. What I do know is that the dust does not hinder me nor capture me. It simply reminds me of a place I have walked away from.

And as I look down at my feet I see the place that I now stand. Dirty feet and all, I made it. I walked it. I walk on.