This place is dirty, rank, filthy.
I think mostly now about the flies.
They love the putrid smell,
The decomposition, the heat.
They rise, circle, swarm.
I think of this village, of these people:
Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world To be rich in faith?
Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the kingdom
He promised to those who love Him?
And I think you and the flies
Have similar ideas about
What makes perfect living conditions.
The babies’ faces are crawling with flies –
In the doorway of Om Ibrahim’s one-room
Hovel they pass freely.
They dance in the stairwell of the school.
Flies love stench, decay, neglect.
The flies love poverty, it’s where they thrive.
Where the flies go, so too do you.
The poor are your chosen people
Your Israel, your Covenant.
Among the poor you move, you abide, you alight.
Your spirit surrounds your people
Like a swarm.
My good friend John Reed recently wrote, “In the end, it’s not really what I heard or what I felt, or what I thought about, considered, intended or understood that counts. In the end, it’s the doing that counts. Application is everything.”
John’s words reminded me of a story that Jesus told in Matthew 21 about a vintner and his two sons . The father asked each of his sons to go spend some time working in the family vineyard. The older son said, (paraphrased), “You bet, I’m on it,” but didn’t actually go. Conversely the younger son told his dad, “Thanks, but I’ll pass,” but then actually went and did the work anyway.
Jesus left no doubt which son did the right thing, and he went on to teach us that he’s really not all that interested in our words or intentions. Jesus expects us to act because he knows that all of us are capable of doing good. And in the end, it’s the doing that counts.
For 8 years the Pangani Guesthouse in South Africa was NieuCommunities’ home. It was also where our family lived from 2005-2006 and it’s filled with sweet and transforming memories. Pangani has always been a special space and thousands of guests’ lives have been moved and formed here over the years.
When we sensed we needed to relocate our ministry into a downtown neighborhood, we gulped hard and put Pangani on the market. We had really hoped another ministry—maybe even a ministry partner—might be able to buy it to continue its legacy and maybe even let us use it from time to time too for workshops and retreats at a “friend’s rate.”
Well, this week Pangani finally sold…to a local veterinary school for student housing. We love dogs and all, but dang, it looked like our days at Pangani were over. Until we met the owner! On a walk through of the property this past week Joe—our site leader in Pretoria—had a chance to tell the buyer a bit of our story in South Africa over the past decade and about our hopes for the future. He was super encouraged—even moved—by our story and by our dreams and he responded by telling us that we can keep using Pangani anytime we want to…for free! That was even more than we had hoped for and a sweet affirmation of things yet to come.
May many, many more special memories be formed in this sacred place.
San Diego Timelapse
I couldn’t help notice the jarring contradiction between the bumper sticker I saw today and today’s prayer from the book of Common Prayer. One read, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” while the other read, “Root us in your love O Lord : and set us free from fear.” I’m guessing that driver missed that whole big piece about loving your enemies. I’m also guessing we might need a whole lot less ammunition if we kindled more love rather than fueling more fear.
the story of god and us -
Compelling thoughts for all of us who have ever wondered about the meaning and relevancy of Scripture.
Ever since our time in Palestine and Israel this past March I’ve had a growing interest in seeing peace come to the people who inhabit those troubled places. And so this morning when I picked up the paper and read the headline, “Iran says Israel’s Existence is an ‘Insult To All Humanity,’ ” my heart sunk. I’ve talked with enough Israelis to know that it’s hateful and wild threats like these that give their politicians extra fuel to double down on their oppression of the Palestinian people in the name of self-defence.
But that’s not what was actually said. What was said, and what was actually included in the text of the Associated Press article, is, “The existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity.” Certainly the Associated Press knows that there is a significant difference between “Israel” and the “Zionist regime.” If they don’t, they should. And if they do know the difference and yet choose to lose the distinction in their reporting, then they should be held liable for hurting people on both sides of the wall by distorting truth.
We need to be reminded that we can be for a people and for a nation without being for a policy or a regime that hurts other people. There are actually millions of Israelis themselves who are pro-Israel without being pro-Zionist. To criticize Zionism is simply not the same thing as insulting a nation or a people, and we need to get that.
When we were in the West Bank we heard Palestinian after Palestinian tell us that they want Israel to have their own home that is safe and secure. They don’t want to annihilate their neighbor. But Palestinians, like all of us, want a home too. We heard Israelis say the same thing about their neighbors. They also want Palestinians to have their own home that is safe and secure. They want their neighbor to live freely and with dignity. If the press would share that story—the story of what most people on both sides of the Green Line truly want—they might actually help fuel peace rather than fear, and that would be a job well done.
It is probably necessary to eliminate doubt when you are young: doing so is a good survival technique. But such worldviews are not true—and they are not wisdom. — Richard Rohr
Golden Hill Street Fair 2012 -
After an 8-year hiatus our neighborhood’s annual street fair returned and it returned big. It was huge hit with the hipsters, but somehow it missed our Latino neighbors. Lets work on the GH. I’m already looking forward to next year and a street fair that’s enjoyed by all.
Super encouraged today by this email:
“I picked up the book Thin Places at the Wild Goose Festival. Little did I know that it would impact me the way it has and resonate so much with the direction we are moving at Hopesprings Community of Faith here in Bangor, PA. I just wanted to thank you and Jon for sharing your hearts and the heart and practices of your communities with the rest of us. I am the community development director here at Hopesprings so I read lots of stuff, (kind of obsessively read way too much stuff about missional living, missional communities-you know the drill), but I don’t believe I have ever wanted to stand up and applaud after I have read a book or said to myself so many times when reading: that’s it! You guys succinctly expressed in a couple hundred pages what we have been trying to live and teach the past few years. Thanks so much!” - Terry Wilson
Sometimes we need to see a dragon to slay, but sometimes we just need to see a bird and smile.
The last thing you want to be part of is a socially acceptable religion. It’ll kill your soul every time. — Phyllis Tickle at The Wild Goose Festival
It will all be alright in the end, so if it is not alright, it is not yet the end.
My favorite line from the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel