Remembering

Last night, during a spiritual exercise with my “cell” (small) group, I thought about some people who had played a special role in my life. Who immediately came to mind was my dear friend John Mogabgab, who recently passed away. If you had the blessing and honour to know John, then you know how hard it is describe him, this marvelous man with a gentle spirit and a wonderful wit, a beard like a desert father, a pupil and scholar of Henri Nouwen, and the founding editor of Weavings. Yet, last night, I realised a special gift John and his wife, Marjorie, gave me and that was the gift of listening to God. The two of them, through their contemplative spirituality, showed me through practice and example how to be intentional about listening to God. Although I don’t do a very good job setting aside quiet time to just listen to God, I am grateful for this lovely and essential gift John and Marjorie gave me, and I’m trying to cultivate in my life a pattern of listening.

On another and a very surprising note, I also thought about the math teachers I had in high school and at university. While listening to a friend share about her child’s struggle with math and with the school’s frequent change of math teachers, I realised for the first time in my life how blessed I was to have the math teachers I had. No doubt, my high school and university friends can’t believe what they are reading, as I struggled so much and complained endlessly about math. However, with one exception, all the math teachers I had were good at teaching their subjects and were so patient with me, going beyond the call of duty to offer me special help. Geometry gave me the hardest time, but my teacher regularly tutored

geometryme after school. I don’t even remember his name; it has been that long ago, but I remember his face and his kindness. Honestly, if I didn’t have helpful math teachers, my academic life could have noise-dived; and I could have become so discouraged. Who would have known that twenty-plus years later, I would give thanks for the math teachers in my life?

I continue to live into my life of Ubuntu, as I continue to realise that my “humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up in yours”—my dear friend John and my math teachers.

 

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Too Young to Die

Within a matter of minutes, I received news this morning that a childhood friend of mine and a cousin of mine passed away. They were both young men, my age. The day has been wrought with emotions—shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, despair for the families. Young people are not supposed to die.

As a SAMS missionary, one of the things I have to do before I depart for the field is to make a will. I had this task on my to-do list for July, but I still haven’t done it. I have been putting it off. I don’t like to think about my immortality. There is something unsettling thinking about my demise. I should still be dreaming about my wedding, not thinking about my funeral. Young people are not supposed to die.

I plan to live for scores to come, and longevity runs in my family. I picture myself being a grumpy, but lovable old woman full of spunk. And I see myself “going out” at the ripe of old age of 100+ doing something I enjoy—playing tennis, belly-laughing at an I Love Lucy episode, traveling.

But the events of today serve as a reminder to me that life is a precious and holy gift. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Life is precious and holy. Let’s never take it for granted.