Showing posts from May, 2017

Faerieland & the Kingdom

The desire of the righteous ends only in good;  the expectation of the wicked in wrath. One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give,  and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,  and one who waters will himself be watered. {Proverbs 11:23-25} (photo by Simson Petrol ) The economy of the kingdom is both hauntingly familiar and strangely alien, like that of faerieland.  It's utterly unlike that of the real every-day grown-up world that we know, where you must look out for number one and stockpile food or cash or weapons for doomsday. Those who belong to the kingdom live differently, with open hearts and open hands.  They give.  They bless.  They bring water and sell grain to those who need it, rather than hoarding it for themselves.  They seek good.  They plan wisely, strategically, to capture souls so that they, too, may experience life and this abundant goodness. There is a sense that these righteou

What I love: These students.

I’m routinely overwhelmed with gratitude for my life right now, both as a whole and in so many discrete aspects.  This is my life right now ? I think, all the time.  So here's the first post, in hopefully a short series to come.   This evening I’m feeling that way -- overwhelmed with love -- about my students.  This year has been a very solid one in terms of my classes.  I’ve had a few classes that are less of an absolute joy to teach, but (thus far) no serious classroom management/behavioral issues.  (Which is to say, nothing that compares with a student my first year standing up to answer a question and deliberately kicking the student next to her as hard as she could… or the student who would just turn his desk around and sit in the corner because he didn’t want to participate…)  I’ve had classes that, week after week, are a delight to walk into.  (They’re typically the loud, chaotic, slightly crazy ones — I say, “Good morning!” and they say, “GOOD MORNING!!!!”) Anyway,

Unwrapping a Chicken

I tend to blog about the more serious parts of life here, but this one's a glimpse into life here that's a little less serious. This past weekend in Jiezi I bought a chicken roasted in clay. Tonight was the unpacking of said chicken, and I wanted to share it with y'all. At first it looks something like a muddy dragon egg. Once you get through the clay, there's a layer of brown paper, then a very large leaf. Apparently lotus leaves are ancient Chinese clingwrap.  As Susan said, it's a greener alternative. It's smiling at me!  (Also, please note how the feet are stuck in the butt to be out of the way...) And this is what cleavers are for. The feet have been freed! Meat in one container, trash in a bag, and other parts in the pot to make soup.  ^_^

Oh my God, can I complain?

My mom shared an article about left-behind children in China the other day.  (You can read it here. )  The name is, perhaps, deceptively whimsical, sounding like it would be at home in Neverland.  The numbers are staggering.  The reality is heartbreaking. As I read the article, my mind filled with names and faces, images of what these statistics look like in the concrete reality of life here. photo by RĂ©mi Walle It looks like the students I teach and eat and laugh with, the ones who text me in the middle of the night when they're reeling from a break up, the ones who celebrate their birthday by eating a meal with me, the ones who call me when they're sick to find out if I can give them some ginger to make tea. It looks like students telling stories of growing up with their grandparents with barely a passing reference to their parents or saying, "I don't know," when I ask who taught them what it means to be an adult. It looks like having conversations

Yanga & Balaygan

There are many lists floating around on the internet of "untranslatable" words.  I love these lists.  I'm also annoyed by them because they are, in fact, not untranslatable; often they are not conveniently translatable.  Anyway, I have my own sort of running mental list of favorites, words for things that are less concisely expressed in English. Yanga  is one, learned from Elisabeth Elliot's one work of fiction, No Graven Image .   Yanga  -- for no purpose. Balaygan  is another, learned from David Tal as he led our group around Israel: bother, trouble, applicable to everything from dropping your camera in the water to (slightly tongue-in-cheek) the Holocaust, which he referred to as "the big balaygan  in Europe." Both words seemed applicable as I looked at my flight itinerary with dismay.  A fourteen hour layover in San Francisco?  It wasn't the flight that I would have chosen, but since the school pays for one flight, we try to be cheap. Sti

When Evening is Overwhelming

I was angry the other night. Enraged.  Furious.  Indignant.  Infuriated. I felt that there were not synonyms enough in the English language to express the depths of my emotion.  The world is sometimes so desperately broken and evil blows itself up so large, casting such large and far-reaching shadows that words fall short. There are no curses I know strong enough for such evil , I thought. Except one. Resurrection . In the face of the most ravaging evil that tightens around the world, that creates fissures in cultures, that breaks the hearts of my students, there is hope. He's risen. That truth is what kicks evil in the teeth, the earthquake that will destroy the whole kingdom of darkness.  For now, we wait and work, living in age of aftershocks, knowing that light is coming, that full morning will dawn and push out the darkness forever. ~~~ ["When Evening is Overwhelming" taken from a song by Zach Winters .]