“But there in a secluded part of Burundi with an oppressed minority group, walking toward a well that will change their lives in more ways than I can tell, I saw the verses in a new light.”
“In that place of discomfort, where my cheeks were always flush and beads of sweat glistened on my forehead, I felt more alive than I had for a long time.”
I want to share with you a post written by a new friend of mine from Canada, who I met on my trip to Uganda and Burundi. She writes beautifully about her experience of the trip and you can read it here.
For the Burundi part of my recent trip I had the privilege of spending time with a wonderful group of ladies, all of whom write blogs and write really well. I will blog about my experiences when I can but I also want to share their beautifully written accounts of certain aspects.
As a group we spent a lot of time listening to each other’s stories. It’s an incredible experience having a group of people lovingly, encouragingly, supportively listen to your story. Not just the short summary, little snippets or neat testimonies but the long version. The round the houses, progression over time version. There is something about being really heard that secures you, validates your journey, feeds your heart and swells your soul. It truely is holy ground.
How often do we ask people open questions, invite people to tell their story and have the patience and kindness to listen for the long answer, not rushing on to the next thing but really settling into the moment and into the thread of their life’s journey? The highs and lows, the emotions and learnings, the times when they wondered where God was and the times when they knew clearly what he was teaching them.
I know I don’t do this enough. But after experiencing what it felt like to be truely heard in Burundi I am determined to create that space for others.
The blog post below is from one of my new friends, Leigh Kramer, who shared that experience in Burundi.
“I hope some day you sit in a room full of kindred spirits and rest in the knowledge of their love. I hope you share your story and have it mirrored back to you with grace and understanding. I hope you have a glimpse of the saints spurring you on. I hope you have people who remind you of who you are when you’ve all but forgotten.” – Leigh Kramer
You can read the full version of her blog about ‘The beauty of sharing your story’ here.
Like a tight bud, inside a green sheath
Like a tap firmly twisted shut
Like a door, locked and bolted
Like the hard packed soil after winter
My heart and spirit can be closed
Guarded, protected, safe
Layers of resistance
Wanting everything planned, controlled, tied up
Hiding in the comfort of the known
Fighting the call to growth and change
in my desire for security
Stuck in fixed expectations
Clinging to what I believe is unchangeable
Not wanting the status quo disrupted
Suspicious of others motives
Defensive, holding myself back
Easily offended, disgruntled, anxious
Critical and finding fault
Feeling angry, prevailed upon, misunderstood
Afraid of being hurt
Afraid of what people may think
Afraid of getting it wrong
Seeing the worst not the best
Noticing the mud not the gold
Like hard packed soil
So hard that the life giving rains can’t soak in
Like a blossoming flower, opening to the warm sunlight
Like a tap turned on, water free flowing
Like a door flung wide, to welcome in
Like soil, ploughed and turned over, ready for watering and planting
My heart and spirit can be open
Open to awe, to wonder, to surprise
Eyes to recognise God in my everyday
Receptive to love
Ready for change and growth
Eager for transformation
Open to my own emotions of tears or joy
Believing I can change and rise above my past
Seeing potential in others for growth and healing
Seeing situations with eyes of hope, things as they can be
Quick to praise and affirm
Deep security that’s unshakable
Welcoming the new, the different
Willing to step into the unknown and seemingly insecure for a season
Releasing my preconceptions
Letting go of my own agendas
Constantly amazed by the beauty in life
Seeing joy beyond the challenges
Heart open to a touch of God in places I didn’t expect to find him
Unthreatened by questions that seem to have no answer
Choosing to trust
Like soil, ploughed and turned over
Open to be watered by the surprising grace of God
If you are in the mood for reflection read on…
In your life
Where have you been closed?
Where have you been open?
What has the fruit of that been?
Where do you see signs of growth, hope and change in you life?
Are there areas where you are resisting growth, change or something new?
Do you want to be more open in any of those areas?
How can you be more open in different situations and relationships in your life?
This coming week, maybe we all can practice having eyes to see joy, surprise, hope and beauty in the everyday.
— All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013
I want to share with you a poem written by a friend, djordan, which expresses very well, something I feel deeply.
As I read this, I think of my many friends and my family who are essential to my life but live far from me.
You know who you are.
Every so often
we find the people
we realize we have no way
of operating without…
The rest of the poem is here.
“Life-changing doesn’t always mean we’re given a step by step, detailed plan. Sometimes it’s the flash of an insight, a heart pounding idea, a sense of what’s to come.” – Leigh Kramer
I want to share with you below a blog post written by a friend I met at Amahoro Africa in Uganda. I flew home from my trip to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi on Thursday and my mind is still buzzing with the colours, the people, the conversations. I really resonate with a lot of what she’s saying. I’m also finding it hard to articulate stories of my time away, especially when you can tell that some people who ask ‘how was your trip?’ really only want a nugget and then to move on in conversation. And yet there are precious friends who listen for the longer stories, ask the deeper questions and in reward get the deeper answers, and in those conversations I feel heard and loved and I myself make realisations about what it all meant and what I have learnt and what I still need to process.
Like my friend Leigh, I also knew really strongly I needed to go on this trip and that it would be significant and yet even now I’m not fully sure how it will be significant. She describes a time on the trip when a few ladies sat together and described how they were feeling in a word and explained it. We did it often, almost every day and it really helped me to articulate and even realise for myself how I was feeling. Towards the end my word was ‘intrigued’. I’m really intrigued to see what God does with these connections. I’m intrigued to see what will come out of this trip. When I described it to my mother she said it’s like walking into a room and smelling delicious food cooking. I know God is cooking up something good for me, I can sense it, I can smell it. I don’t know exactly what’s going to be on the table yet but I know it’s going to be good.
You can read my friend Leigh’s post here
I want to share a post written by my friend Nicole Joshua, writing about her experience at Amahoro Africa 2013 in Kampala, which finished yesterday. I echo her thoughts. So many conversations that have opened up my mind to the realities in different African nations, both the tragic and the hopeful. My heart is now more connected to Africa because it connects with individuals living in these realities.
Stories that have not been told but need to be heard
Today I heard stories about a country that I had always thought of as a sleepy nation, a peaceful people that grow really good tea. And then I had a conversation with someone from that country and who painted a very different picture.
I heard stories of high levels of child sexual abuse and not many, or almost no, convictions because of high levels of impunity for perpetrators. I heard stories of a church that supports the government’s attempts to suppress the truth about trauma associated with ethnic violence and conflict, about pain unacknowledged as a result of a civil war because of a desire to forget the past. I heard stories about corruption that appears rampant, with no hope of things changing.
And yet, I heard stories of hope,…. read the full post here