a poem

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
‘Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,--you’re straightaway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

--Emily Dickinson


Yet Another Great Quote

The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine — which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.

--Wendell Berry


Challenging Words

I believe now, more than ever, that being a part of a contrast-community, building a life that nurtures peace, is our only hope of ending war. True, there are many ways to effect peace in the world besides living in a community. But imagine what kind of resistance could be formed if we would cease to run our lives on the basis of career or income or certain standards of living that involve treating the rest of the world as one giant fuel pump? What if instead we spent our energies and resources building up a common life that needed less and gave more? What would happen if in sharing life together we did away with the usual distinctions that keep people apart and at odds with one another? What if we actually disengaged ourselves from the driving values of material security, professional achievement and social recognition—along with the lifestyle that reinforces them—to create a genuinely alternative existence?

--Charles Moore


Great Quote

Ever tried?
Ever failed?
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.

--Samuel Beckett


Africa: I

What follows is the first of many Africa-stories I hope to tell on this blog. As most of you know, I was honoured to spend 4 weeks in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over the summer with a group of Dutch Mennonite young folks.

For photos chronicling our adventures, keep checking out my photolog.

I hope to post one new Africa photo per day for the duration of my Africa Story Telling Stint.

Introductions: the Dutch group, plus Martin and Gale

The Dutch Group (including me, the Dutch American) consisted of the following amazing folks:

Michiel, musician and songwriter who also has a degree in business;
Jelien, former psychology student who is now studying the visual arts;
Nelleke, student of urban planning who grew up as a missionary kid in South America;
Margje, studies social work and wears striking purple glasses;
Bas, almost as old as I am, and later in the trip served as our delegate to the Global Youth Summit;
Gerrit, the youngest of us all, an engineering student;
Maaike, student of psychology who has lived in Canada for a year;
Femke, recent graduate in pychology who loves to sing;
Charlotte, psychology student with gorgeous red hair that looks great in braids;*
And ... me.

*Nelleke's blond locks also look great braided.

When we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa after a lo-o-o-ong flight, we waited in a few lines, got our passports stamped (yippee! stamps in one's passport are so exciting!), and then made our way to the lobby to wait for our guides. After a couple of minutes, Gail found us, and then led us outside to her co-guide Martin and their trusty truck. Gail and Martin work for Boundless Adventures (BA).

BA is, as the site says, "the first Overland operator in South Africa to offer the addition of mountain biking to Overland journeys."

Fortunately for us, not all of their trips feature bikes -- not that I wouldn't enjoy biking across Southern Africa; I would love to go on one of the Cycling Expeditions in the future. But considering the fact that we needed to travel from Johannesburg, South Africa to Livingstone, Zambia in 5 days' time -- well, biking just wasn't an option. So the Boundless Adventures truck became home for us for the first five days of our trip, and I tell you, at the end of those five days, were we ever reluctant to leave it!

(If you scroll down on BA's "About Us" page, you can see a photo of our very truck! Or at least, one that looks just like it.)

Our guides were incredible. Between Martin knowing everything about wildlife, and Gail knowing everything about South African history, and the both of them being camping/cooking experts, we were good to go. We learned an awful lot, and had a great time too.

And with that, the stage is set.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

One of my favorite college professors recently wrote a book called Gum-Dipped: A Daughter Remembers Rubber Town.

I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago. I am not exaggerrating when I say that it filled me with wonder. A review will be forthcoming.


Here's ... Malinda!

My apologies for the month-long hiatus.

I am back, and I'm ready to talk about Africa, the Rubber Industry, and my friend Malinda's blog.

Let's start with the third topic. I would like to introduce you all to Malinda Elizabeth Berry via her dazzling menagerie of blogs, which you can find here.

Malinda is a dear friend from my seminary days at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

She is a brilliant grad student earning her Ph.D. in systematic theology at New York's Union Theological Seminary.

And as for the rest of who Malinda is -- well, her blogs speak for themselves. Feel free to join in on the theological conversations which her site enthusiastically hosts!