A vast, expansive beauty
on Rebecca in Rwanda (Rwanda), 31/Aug/2013 23:35, 34 days ago
Please note this is a cached copy of the post and will not include pictures etc. Please click here to view in original context.

Most people I've met who have been to Africa describe the same kind of feeling about living, working or visiting it. The people were so joyful! They had so little but seemed so happy! They lived for the moment! The scenery, wildlife, clothing, music and culture were phenomenal! I realize as I become the umpteenth person to write about my time here, my perspectives are probably not unique. How then, can I articulate the beauty? I am reminded of one of my students in Ireland, Charlotte Bowen, who floored me one day in class when I was giving a lesson on the Kingdom of God.To preface this story, I need to say that 12 days after moving to Ireland in 2010 I found myself suddenly and shockingly on my own. Not unlike the nervous fear I experienced during the first few weeks in Rwanda-solo due to miscalculations which cannot see blog air time- I leaned heavily on my faith (and my friends) during this time. As almost instant proof of His love and abiding care, I found a place to live in Ireland and a job within 3 weeks and opted to stay. Whether this was out of pure stubbornness or foolishness or purposefulness remains to be seen. The job was teaching Religious Education at an all girls' private boarding school. I embraced it. So halfway through the year, during a lesson on false idols and evidence of God I asked the 2nd year students to draw images on the whiteboard of things they believed in, things they used to believe in and things they no longer believed in. The board soon became covered with pictures of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, the Cross, hearts for love, hands holding one another for friendship, etc. etc. As the board became full, I asked the girls to contemplate that if their parents had told them of Santa Claus and it had been disproven he existed as they passed the 7 years or 8 years of age mark, how could they choose to believe in something else which was unseen?I asked several girls to draw images of what they felt the Kingdom of God looked like. We erased Santa Claus, we drew images of faith icons instead. I was sensing the lesson was resonating as we continued to discuss what we'd been told, what we'd been taught and what- as twelve and thirteen year olds- we could choose to believe for ourselves. Then, I asked the class, of all the images up here- which one best represents the Kingdom of God? The Cross? The Jesus Christ picture? The church drawing? Charlotte Bowen walked up to the board, took the whiteboard marker in her hand and confidently drew a circle around the entire perimeter of our drawings. "He is everywhere and in everything." she said. So true.I think of that moment when I think of Rwanda and its' vast, expansive beauty. I know Thoreau talked about his time in nature being a religious experience and I know that minus the trappings of commercial consumerism we are face to face with pure humanity so that can feel spiritual too. Africa is a magical place, I wish more people had the courage to visit it and not necessarily for the purpose of humanitarian aid. I wish that people could step outside their bubbled words and visit a place where one has to live day to day because the future is not certain. And I hope that when they do, they can feel the strong connection to the metaphysical world that I do whenever I am here. In the spirit of Hebrews 11:1 that states: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."Yes, Charlotte Bowen, the Kingdom of God is everywhere, in all things and it is our job to take the time and space to see it. In Rwanda it is everywhere.