Saturday, April 14, 2007

After You've Hurt or Every Day is like Holy Saturday

Photography can't begin to capture the beauty that we experienced in Queen Elizabeth National Park--not even with Travis' good eye and camera. Travis arrived in Entebbe in the middle of the night--we picked him up only after he'd been half eaten by mosquitoes and then drove straight to Mweya Safari Lodge--6 hours southwest. Travis is writing an article about them for his magazine so they were putting him up. Ben and I had intended to camp or stay in a hostel nearby but when we showed up the manager said they'd prepared a two room suite for Travis with plenty of room if we wanted to stay together. It was the first of surprising gifts during our week with my brother.

The last time we'd been this spoiled in Uganda was with Kimbal and Kellen at Paraa in Murchison Falls. Both times we thoroughly enjoyed the break, the luxury, the companionship of some of dear friends, and incredible beauty. Can I draw conclusions about a "trend" if I've only experienced it twice? I think this kind of beautiful experience has changed for me forever since coming to northern Uganda. The first time, I would've called it white-girl's guilt. This time, the change has matured into something more nuanced and difficult to express. Though a totally different experience--the only comparable emotion I can compare it to is the way that you feel in moments of love after you've deeply hurt and been hurt by your lover. There is a simplicity, gratitude and open hearted freedom when you're in love before you've ever hurt each other. After the first major injury--the relationship may be stronger, deeper, even better--but it's never the same because now you know how much it can hurt.
The Holy Week before Easter is a good time of reflection for these things. Between amazing food, swimming in the pool, enjoying the view, and the cool wind at dawn sticking our heads out of the jeep on game drives and watching lions--I had two of my favorite men to process with. I don't feel guilty for my full life--and I have a really full life. (though I try to be conscious of and avoid the ways my privelege can contribute to the injustice of others) But I don't feel as free to just be grateful for it because I'm kind of mad that not everyone has the same freedom. I feel loved by God but I'm not sure I would if I'd been born in an IDP camp or if I'd been raped or watched my family members decapitated. It's easy to say "thank you God" when I get to stay in a beautiful suite at a luxury safari lodge instead of camping in the rain--but I don't want God to be loving to me, I want him to be love. My life isn't in the middle of the sorrow of Good Friday. But that sorrow is a daily reality for a lot of people--and without the hope of redemption of Easter Sunday--I can't hold the belief that He is good and loving.

I confessed to Travis, sometimes I'm totally sure God is good and loving but maybe he just isn't trying. I get angry. I feel like I'm here--totally inadequate and working as hard as I can--and what is He doing? He could fix this tragic mess if he tried, and I can't--but at least I'm trying. This isn't really what I believe--it's how I honestly feel when I get discouraged. I have my sense of the problem of evil and I know what I think the answers to these questions are--but it's not where I operate from consistently. Being with family is healthy. It was a time of a strengthening faith. It reminds me where I've come from and makes me feel like I have roots that are still in tact. Somehow, the questions are easier to hold unanswered in my heart when they're voiced to someone who gets it, who doesn't judge, and who reminds me of the character I believe God has--that He wants a full life for every broken human being and to redeem the earth and everything in it. And we're on that day inbetween crucifixion and resurrection, groaning for redemption.
Easter Sunday we were back at home in Lira and sharing things that were new to Travis--like kasava. We got up late, ate a great breakfast, listened to a sermon online from Celebration, dug in the garden, and ran around the house looking for chocolate eggs that Ben surprised us with. The week with Travis was refreshing and wonderfully comfortable and natural. It seemed like he ought to just be able to come over every Saturday and hang out. Sharing what has become familiar to us in Uganda with him was so much fun. Doing life together and enjoying the ordinary as well as the awesome beauty was a gift we received gratefully. My parents just got our home videos from when we were kids put on DVD and sent them to us. So we got nostalgic watching younger versions of ourselves and marvelled at our parents' youthfulness, how totally adorable Tina was, and how much relationships change in 15 years.


JT said...

Holl, I finally watched The Last King of Scotland. I thought it was okay. The plot devices were creative, and the entry into Amin's mind was amazing. I didn't think it was purposeless- the purpose was to get into Amin's head and to see how he was in person, to those who knew him best. But, I think I was left emotionally scarred by some of the brutality in the movie. It's funny that I am a human rights lawyer and I got upset by a violent movie, but it happens.

Rachele Jones said...

HOlly...I really love reading what you and Ben write. I love the way you put such eloquent words to such beautiful thoughts...

Holly & Ben Porter said...

Perhaps, but I found the brutality equally scarring and not particularly insightful, with a fairly despicable hero--who is white. Is that the only way to make a profoundly African story accessible to a North American/European audience? I think that's a shame.

That said the performance of what's his name (i am really bad with actors/actresses names)who played Amin was remarkable--very impressive.

Rae--so happy you're reading--your presence is really missed here! I was happy to hear how you are--and we'll keep hoping one of these years you'll find your way back to the continent!

JT said...

Well, yeah. But at least it made the story accessible and raised interest in Uganda.

If it helps, all of my Ugandan friends like the filmn, better than I did in fact.

I'm glad you guys are doing well :). I wish I could come to a party at Holly's house!