Preparing for Kenya
October 10, 2023
This excerpt from one of my favourite poets came up on my FB feed recently:
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing.
Make sure, before you go,
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you towards
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life;
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
What an invitation! Here I am, more than comfortable, healthy, not just one home but two, adequate food, clean water and everything I could possibly need available to me…. And one of the preparations for this trip includes several vaccinations. Because I am going to a place where all the above are NOT a given; where water and food and insects carry disease and where access to health care and regular vaccinations are NOT a given. So, I woke up in the night, a few nights ago, shivering, uncomfortable and aching. Knowing that the reason was somewhat self-inflicted didn’t help (much). But I had lots of time to think. And to be grateful that I have the privilege and opportunity to be planning a trip to Kenya.
But I do ask myself…. Do I have any business traveling to Kenya to gaze at some beautiful creatures of God (Kenya has one of the highest concentrations of bird species (over 1100 recorded!) and large mammals in the world) and into peoples’ lives?
My mom has lived and volunteered in Kenya twice now. It was her dream to see some part of Africa and to help make a difference in another part of the world. She worked in an organization supporting children and their education both times. This year she wanted to go back and visit as well as celebrate some mile-stones for those no-longer-children and I thought I could accompany her. She is a vibrant and healthy 80-year old, but I still didn’t want her traveling alone. The congregation in which I serve, Mayfair United Church in Saskatoon, has been supportive of my time away being taken as ‘continuing education’. Little did I know that the ‘education’ would start right away.
'Practicing' with my Tilley Hat!
Some of the thoughts and questions and learnings – what are my own biases about Africa? What are the images and cultural teachings that I have inherited as a Caucasian North American? Why so many vaccines? How has colonialism affected the whole world and what might my learnings have to say to my call to decolonize church and culture in Canada? How will I ever get used to bargaining in the markets, where it is expected?! What do I have to offer and what will I learn?
What more will I discover of ‘my hidden life and the urgencies that deserve to claim me’?