June/July 2010 Volume 63Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our June/July issue:
Carla Woody, Founder
Metaphors for Life
He called it having the lights out. He meant that there wasn't enough electricity to power the refrigerator and the lights at the same time. The voltages are all different and the wires don't know what to do. A lot of blinking and dimming happens then. They take it all in stride. What else can they do?
He’s been here for over five years now. But still thinks it strange when people get upset about a storm, and losing power for a few days. He said, “Why do they get so crazy? It’s not really an emergency. You’re not getting shot at with machine guns, or bombs destroying your whole house. You can always light a candle or go for a walk.”
He came here from Africa, from Sierra Leone. His name is Magnus. And that fits him very well. When I look up at him, he looms on the horizon like a magnificent dark continent. Massive and black as midnight, but when he speaks and shakes my hand, he seems as timid and lost as a puppy that's been dropped out on a country road.
He’s searching for a little understanding, or maybe at least a look in the eye. He arrives wet from the downpour that has saturated his too thin of a jacket. No umbrella and the papers he's carrying are half soaked. But still he pulls them out and asks me if I can help him find some articles on a topic he’s to write about. He traveled half way around the world to kneel on the floor and ask this. I said, “Please pull up a chair, no need to hurt your knees.” And besides that, I think he needs to sit down for a while and gather some strength. Just to breathe and shake off some of that dampness.
Even though he's quite a bit younger than you'd imagine, being from where he's from, adds twenty years to his appearance. But I don't think about his age as much as I feel the handshake that speaks volumes of his journey from that place and the family that he's left so far behind.
It’s not a handshake that most men in this country would offer, or should I say, what they would force on you; one that lets you know unequivocally that they literally have the "upper hand" on you.
His hand is immense, but reaches out to be cradled, and not squeezed into submission; like he's putting his life, his destiny in my hands, to be cared for, at least for these few minutes that he's asking for help.
Between finding articles for him about environmental-justice and Christian faith, we talk about his plans of being a minister and helping his people find the love of God, and how that will make their lives better, even if there isn't enough electricity to brighten a starless night or enough food for babies not to go hungry.
I listen, and give him the articles that I found for him, suggesting he put them in a plastic bag so they won't be ruined by the pouring rain. He smiles and says, “God bless you,” and I return the blessing back to him, as he reaches out and gently puts his hand in mine.
Watching him dissolve back into the bleak night from which he emerged, he feels like a lost ship and the lighthouse all at the same time.
© 2010 Alan Staiger. Essay and photo used with permission.
Alan Staiger is a prolific artist, writer, poet and keen observer of the world around him who meets many intriguing people with interesting stories in his position as a Reference Librarian with the Greene County Public Library. He currently lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Carla Woody is on a leave of absence but will return with the next issue of Kenosis Inspirations.
More often than not, the publications or music you will find reviewed here will not be new or "bestsellers." Websites or organizations may not be well known. But all are spotlighted by virtue of their impact and value.
Iris is a tribute to a boy’s fascination with a flower he knew as the sword lily, an older man’s deep love and the poignancy of things well known when very young but lost along the way. Hesse’s beautiful use of language in this short story invites us into the depth of the main character’s journey, one we may all take to some degree.
... this was the flower’s mouth, that behind the luxuriant yellow finery in the blue abyss lived her heart and thoughts, and that along this lovely shining path with its glassy veins her breath and dreams flowed to and fro...
This is a tale, an odyssey taken through life of innocent wisdom, distraction, loss a meandering path that returns to the place it began. Iris will remind us that Hesse is a master storyteller imparting levels of knowledge if we’re ready to receive it. And for those Richard Bach fans it will recall Illusions and others like it.
Iris is a summons to read the complete collection of The Fairy Tales by Herman Hesse. All of the short stories are written between 1904 and 1918. But with titles like The Difficult Path, If the War Continues and A Dream About the Gods, this is also a book for seekers of today. Some things just don’t change.
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