Where is Esther Joshua?

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

IMG_2618The last couple of days Esther Joshua’s name has come to my mind, as it does on occasion when I’m still. I don’t know her but I’ve been praying for her by name. Esther is one of the 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted way back in April by Boko Haram, the radical Islamist terror group.

I wonder what she’s eating, and where she lays her head. Does she have shelter? Has she been forced to say the words of conversion? I think of my own granddaughter that age and don’t let my mind go to unspeakable darker places. Esther’s name speaks of a queen who saved her people by standing up for what is right, and Joshua, a pioneering commander who wasn’t afraid to take new territory. Does she pray in her darkest times? Does she sense God’s presence? Is she even alive?

The news services have been quiet about the captive girls for months. The outraged campaigns to “storm heaven for Nigeria” and the viral Twitter campaign hashtag #BringBackOurGirls have been stilled. Four months after the capture, about sixty girls managed to escape. News anchors have gone on to reporting the spread of Ebola, the encroaches of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and the wedding of George Clooney.

But while we were looking elsewhere, something is happening in Nigeria. In the last few days, twenty-seven hostages, including ten Chinese workers were freed by Boko Haram and handed over to Cameroonian soldiers near the border with Nigeria, according to the Voice of America’s VOA News. One of the captives Abdouraman Seini, said Boko Haram is running out of food for their hundreds of fighters and captives. And then on October 10, 2014, Christian pastor Rotimi Obajimi escaped from captivity by Boko Haram after nearly ten months. In reporting his escape, the Christian Post (October 17, 2014) said Boko Haram has been “waging war on the Nigerian government for over five years now, have slaughtered Christian pastors and entire congregations in their mission to establish Islamic rule over the nation.” This includes beheading of villagers opposing them. Some 2,000 civilians were reportedly killed this year. In a video, Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader is quoted as saying, “We are running our caliphate, our Islamic caliphate. We follow the Quran … We now practice the injunctions of the Quran in the land of Allah.” Cautionary words indeed.

And then today when Esther Joshua came to my mind again, the BBC News says after a month of negotiations, an agreement was sealed between Nigeria and Boko Haram and the girls are to be released. According to the BBC, Nigerian Presidential aide Hassan Tukur said, “They’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them … I am cautiously optimistic.” No word yet on what concessions the government had to make.

Today I am praying for Esther Joshua and the other approximately 218 other young women, the pride of their families, students who are the future of the nation, forcibly detained by a group whose name means “Western education is sinful.”

We wait. And pray: bring back our girls.

Puffs of Air and Spit in the Wind

May 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

IMG_0865Oh! We’re all puffs of air. Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we’re just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it. What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing–hoping …” (Psalm 39:5-7 The Message).

Today is our grandson’s 14th birthday and his eight grade graduation. Wasn’t it just the other day that his father carried him out of the birthing room for the inspection of two eager pairs of grandparents? He was a blond toddler when he came to live next to us so he grew up imperceptibly before our eyes in daily increments. And then one day almost two years ago he and his older sister and his mother and dad moved to the middle of the country to the extremes of temperature in Tornado Alley.  And now he’s a young man, taller than his mother and ready for high school.

And what happens to his grandparents in the intervening years since his birth? We grow older in daily increments, and not so imperceptibly. We see old friends and recognize the quick appraising glances we give each other:  how did we all get so old?

“Puffs of air. 

Does that mean we’re like ethereal gusts, short-lived, entertaining while they’re moving, but not destined to stay around? I think it does.

“Shadows in a campfire.”

I’ve seen a lot of campfires in my 18 years of sitting around nightly smoky campfires at a wilderness camp ministry. Everyone is drawn to fire, sees something different in it,  is fascinated by the glowing embers as they burn down. But they eventually  burn down and the fire goes out.

“Spit in the wind.”

Not an elegant word picture. Spit in the wind doesn’t go far and can’t decide where it goes. It just has its moment in time and then is gone.

 

“We make our pile and then we leave it.”

Or not. The accumulations that we leave behind better be more than dishes nobody wants and oddments that get relegated to an estate sale. (A little money would be nice, the kids say sotto voice.)

Do I sound depressed? I’m not, not at all. I’m just measuring my days, looking back and looking ahead. It’s the last line of this psalm of David that tells the real story.

Our lives are more than a puff of air, a campfire shadow, accumulating and leaving. There’s hope! Hope for the discoveries ahead, for the joys yet to come. Hope reassures me God has planned amazing things for our real lives to come in our true home. No more fleeting puffs of air, or campfire shadows but life, eternal life.

“My hope is in you,” the New King James Version of verse 7 says. And that grasp of a living hope in God is what I want to leave my children and grandchildren.

 

© Inger Logelin 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Underneath Thoughts and Groanings

April 22, 2014 § 2 Comments

IMG_2473It’s Earth Day. And I’m groaning.

And it seems as if the earth is groaning too.

Oh, not on the outside where my life goes on as it usually does, where tragedy has not come to my door. Here the apple trees are showing off pink and white blossoms, Easter has been celebrated with gusto, and the garden is pushing up the first green of onions, radishes, beets and potatoes .

But, underneath, underneath, the default position of my thoughts shifts to those 41 lost, the bodies in the mud of the Washington State Oso landslide, not far from my island home. Those bleak March days afterwards—a month ago today—when the rain was still pouring and I was warm and comfortable in my house, my mind would shift to the grandmother, the baby, the working man, the small children, lost in the cold mud and insurmountable piles of debris. Although I sat as close to the comforting steady heat of the woodstove, it was as if I couldn’t get warm enough when there were those who would never be warm again … on this earth.

The Bible says, “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” (Romans 8:22 NIV).

And it feels right now as if there is more reason to groan than ever.

The current triad of tragedies began on March 8th with the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with its 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian crew. The unbearable uncertainty, the drowned hopes, the grief with no resolution, the groaning.

When the South Korean ferry “Sewol” sank on April 19, 2014 near Jindo, south of Seoul, Korea it was as if the previous two disasters were combined into something unthinkable, unimaginable and utterly devastating. Some 476 passengers had boarded the ferry, most of them teenagers, 250 of them from one high school in Ansan, Korea. To date, there are 121 confirmed dead, with 181 missing. As rescue has turned to recovery, the numbers of dead will go up exponentially. It is a stunning loss; and I grieve.

It is Earth Day, and the earth is groaning. Darkness and death seem ever present.

The cover story of April 28th’s issue of  Time is “Finding God in the Dark” and features Barbara Brown Taylor.  Author of the article, Elizabeth Dias, writes that Taylor says, ” … contemporary spirituality is too feel-good that darkness holds more lessons than light and that contrary to what many of us have long believed, it is sometimes in the bleakest void that God is nearest.”

“In the bleakest void … God is nearest.” I remember the words of Psalms 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

The earth is his. He knows. He understands our darkness. His heart is touched with our grief, our groaning. He is near.

The hope that seems so out of reach in times of great tragedy, but is nevertheless actual and real, is there will come a day, when this earth has worn out like a garment when there will be a new earth, a new heaven. When death that touches all of us here on earth, will be done away with. When there will be no more darkness or grief.

But, not yet; we wait. The rest of Romans 8:22 says, “ … [We] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons the redemption of our bodies.”

There will come a day.

copyright 2014  Inger Logelin

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Bye-Bye Books … Think I’m A-Gonna Cry

January 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

I said it. And now I have to do it. In my post “In Search of Simple Things” I said, “Ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest” were sounding attractive.  It’s the actual getting rid of stuff, the parting, the excising that isn’t all that attractive to me. And where the ink hits the paper is the indisputable fact that complicates my life. I am a bibliophile. Yes. A lover of books. I’m hoping it hasn’t reached the point of bibliolatry … a state of being overly devoted to books.

IMG_1601

Mostly I borrow books from the library, and

don’t mind bringing them back as I can find them again if I wish. Complicating matters is my work as an editor/writer that has at times necessitated reading a book and writing about it. And then there’s the relative who has access and first pick of used books to purchase as a Friend of the Library and who arrives for visits with bags or boxes for me to peruse and buy.

Why do I love books so? They are friends who supported me in various phases of my life, who entertained, who kept me awake, who spun new thoughts in my head, who made me cry, who taught me, inspired me and kept me company. How can I get rid of them? I keep my friends. I don’t necessarily want to read them twice; I just want them hanging around.

And so my garage is filled with books, the downstairs bookshelves are filled, the upstairs shelves have no more room. Some of these babies have to go. I’m approaching the “old woman in a shoe” syndrome.

How to cull? What to get rid of? Here’s the plan. I’m also motivated by value, so I have three boxes ready to go to a used bookstore that buys books for their consideration. I’ve listed many on Amazon, and sold some most weeks. It’s not as painful getting rid of books if I consider they are going to a new good home and if I make a few dollars on the exchange. Those that don’t sell I’ll  save for my spring garage sale.

“What are you going to do with the ones that don’t sell then?” my husband asked.

“Oh, I’ll donate them,” I said offhandedly. But, it’s not that simple. I may just pat their covers lovingly and package them up and slide them back in the garage. I don’t have a problem with hoarding … after all. Or do I?

(c) 2014 Inger Logelin

Of Glass Plates and Other Unused Gifts

January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rainbow soap bubbles sparkled on the clear glass plate as the winter  sun shone through the kitchen

Pass the Plate

Pass the Plate

window. I held the art deco handles, rinsed and wiped the flower-shaped plate and wondered. Wondered about the woman who had owned it before me.

I found it on a crisp November Saturday in Barron, Wisconsin when my sister-in-law and I stopped at an estate sale at a yellow one-story house on a quiet street. “Everything’s half off today,” said the antique store owner who was managing the sale. I walked through the house picking up clues. She must have been Scandinavian. Stainless and pewter serve ware, crisp linens, familiar patterns. A cheese serving set from the 50s in the original box with a Marshall Fields tag on it. Pink budded cups and saucers. Many items looked new or very lightly used. Some were obviously gifts she had never taken out of the box. A green and white chenille bedspread in perfect condition. A gilt mirror and brush and comb. Unused handkerchiefs and boxes of linen stationery tied with ribbon.

There’s something  sad about  strangers wander through a home, picking up and discarding, evaluating and critiquing  treasures the owner had kept and valued but perhaps never taken out of the box. Were there no children to value what their mother had or to want to keep some remembrances of her?

I walked out of there with a box and a bag. Some to keep, some to give to a daughter who particularly values the 50s. And I came home with something else. The resolve to keep on using what I have and what I have been given.  I want to take my gifts out of the box and give them a good go. Use them, pass them around, give them away. I want my gifts–what I am, what I possess–to wear the lovely patina that comes from loving interactions. Scratches and dents may result, but at the end my life won’t be one that was unused, unrealized and left in a box.

(c)  Inger Logelin 2014

In Search of Simple Things

December 29, 2013 § 4 Comments

It happens to me every year.  So much becomes too much.

Too many decorations … cookies … even carols and televised Christmas “specials.”Image

Too much rich food, too many gifts, too much pressure to buy.

I’m over it, I realize with a stretched out longing for the simple. A meal of homemade bread and cheese. A fragrant soup, not a rich sauce.  A clear sideboard, an uncluttered mind.

“‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free …” wrote Shaker elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song, known then as a “quick dance,” goes:

” ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”

As 2014 approaches, there’s a longing for the “place just right.” And I have a strong suspicion that true simplicity is the way to get there. Already, ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest sound attractive, rather than my usual acquire, pile up and collect. The Shakers danced to this song. And “coming down where we ought to be” I find to be a dance with intricate steps. Step back. Let go. Push forward. End.

Could it be that the way to more is through less?

(c) 2013 Inger Logelin

My Life Flashing Before Me

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Colorful flashes of my life accost me at regular intervals throughout my day.

England, Sweden, Norway, HOP, home 013Well-loved faces. Places I have traveled. Scenic views. Bad hair. Gatherings of friends. Thanksgiving dinners. Spring tulips. A beloved yellow lab, now gone.

There’s the baby,  she must have been three months old.

Where were we when that picture was taken? I wonder.Camp 2004 161winter 06  07021

Who is that? My mind refusing to pull up a name.

Don’t ever wear that again, I warn myself.

Oh, remember that street in Nice … the dogteam ride in Greenland … Oh, there’s the wedding.

Does that top make me look fat? I muse, not looking for an answer.

Expressions of a fragmented mind? An end-of-life experience fast forwarding across my consciousness?Friends and Alaska trip Sept 2005 160

No, it’s iPhoto selecting bits and pieces of my life to rotate on my desktop computer. No rhyme, no reason, no pattern. Just a delight of discovery. A frisson of remembrance. A slight breath in.

I look at all the lives who have touched mine, places traveled I never thought I’d go, the rich and varied tapestry of my life and I’m thankful.

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

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