It is a lazy and grey morning in Uganda, the wind blowing wet against the thin windows, and cold enough that my long-sleeved t-shirt has made its rare appearance and now accompanies my skirt and flip-flops. This is the last relaxed morning we will have for a while. Moses and Christine conclude their pastors' conference in Kampala today and with them will return the pace of a new school term. I find the rain comforting - not that I feel in need of comfort, but something in it nourishes me all the same. Maybe it reminds me of home, perhaps it nudges my thoughts ahead to next fall, or maybe it simply brings a slowness to the day that matches the pace of my mind and heart as they trudge along into the year. I'm not quite sure, but I welcome it regardless.
I feel at peace. Somehow, all of the chaos that has invaded my thoughts to wage war on my heart during this past week has finally settled. I awoke early this morning to the sound of the rain and something in me just let go, as if I had been fighting for survival, persevering unnoticed, with clenched fists. All the tension and anxiety released and I felt at rest for the first time in many days. No words or specific thoughts came to mind. I just lay there, listening to the rain falling through the dark and coming to rest on the banana leaves, the drops running together to form rivulets that splashed in the mud, leaving small red dimples below.After some time, I got up to do the dishes from dinner last night (we finished eating at 11:30 p.m.), and as my hands kept themselves busy, my mind was free to wander in and out of thought and prayer. Eventually, the others got up and found their way out for breakfast. I heard their bare footsteps on the cement as they stumbled to the kitchen to greet me, dark eyes sleepy, sweaters pulled partially on (though rendered almost ineffective due to their gaping holes). For some reason, my disdain for the mundane routine of the morning surrendered to the beauty of the simple tasks and tedium of life. I realized again how much we miss when we forget to pause, when we forget to give thanks for the invisible and the unlikely. And for some reason, right now I find contentment in the fact that it is almost noon and Olivia is lying across from me, having returned to bed, completely buried in her blanket, still in her pajamas -- not even sleeping, simply lying there because she can. Even the occasional visit from the medium-sized rat that moved into our room yesterday no longer seems an intrusion but rather part of what makes this place home.
DARIEN PALPANT, a 2001 Krista Colleague, originally wrote this reflection in an email to friends and family while in Uganda where she taught in rural village secondary schools. She lived with a generous Ugandan pastor's family who opened their home to many children orphaned by AIDS and helped in providing their care. A religion major, she used her Krista Colleague $1000 grant to complete a hospital chaplaincy internship in Kenya. Darien and her husband, Nathan, now live in Spokane, WA.