That Time I Got in the Nile River

May 12, 2006

mbale

The things I do for internet.

I decided to walk from my retreat center along the Nile, Mto Moyoni, which by the way I would highly recommend. I’m staying in this adorable little hut–straight out of Swiss Family Robinson and loving life.

With all my running around like crazy trying to save the world, I really needed this time of stillness…in fact we all do but don’t do it enough.

I feel like I’m having all these little Anne Lamott moments…funny things in the midst of trying to be spiritual.

I love to read, but I realized after eight hours of it….I get bored.

I did two brave things today–both which were pretty stupid. I started to walk to town and about five steps into it, slipped in the mud with my flip flops and got caked with mud on my legs and all over my favorite hippie long green skirt. At that point most people would take that as a sign and give up. But I decide just to change and head out again, this time, on a boda-boda.

Now let me explain this, a boda is nothing other than a glorified mo-ped.

Couple that with mud and night-time and it’s a recipe for disaster. So I’m haggling the guy about the price, because obviously he thinks I’m stupid and white, but when I hop on I realize, I should just give the guy what he wants lest he drive off with me into the bushes somewhere.

Town is farther away than I realize. So I close my eyes (and mouth) or I might be having mosquitos for dinner. Miraculously I make it only to find the cafe is closed…but I am on a mission–I find another one and here I am sunburned, but full of all the happiness time alone with God can bring.

The other stupid thing I did which turned out ok was I decided to get in the Nile.

I’m writing this so obviously I wasn’t eaten by a crocodile, although I did have flashes of that as I entered the water. It took me like ten minutes to gather the courage to get in. I kept thinking some weird African bird or fish was going to eat my toes. But really because these kids on the other shore kept waving at me to get in, I couldn’t let them watch me chicken out, even if they were only 5 and didn’t have any clothes on. I swam for a good ten minutes and then fought my way back to shore.

Apparently the current is pretty strong here (more visions of me getting sucked into a whirlpool of death I had to overcome in order to get in.)

With each fear we overcome we find most of our fears are unfounded. (Don’t worry Mom, I’m not looking for more fears to fight.)

The thing about solitude is you learn a lot about yourself. I’m finding I could be pretty happy doing what this woman who runs this place does–she counsels leaders, kind of like a spiritual guru, and is opening a dormitory for abducted girls from the north to come down and get counseling and spiritual guidance to heal from their past.

She draws people into their own hearts and into encounters with god and that is really what I’m into. Talking. :)

I really got a revelation from god today that as Christians we are so broken ourselves and running around trying to help people, when we really need to take time out and help ourselves.

This woman, Ingrid, used to work with street kids in Kampala for years and eventually said she felt worn out and that the promises of God were not true because she had poured herself out but not received. Finally she just told God, ok what do you want me to do because either you are wrong, or I am wrong. God led her to open up this place because he said she had spent a lot of time working for him, but not being with him and he just wanted her heart. Ten years from now, I don’t want to be on a road towards weariness. I want to learn these lessons young so I don’t have to wait til I’m 50 to realize I missed God in my striving to do things for him.

What we really desire in life is communion = union with–God, ourselves and others. We look for it in everything we do. As much as I love sunburns and solitude, I miss sharing life after a few days.
But I am finding God out here, like the line from one of my fave poems, “Rest in the arms of love,” which seems to take shape out here among the cranes sweeping low over the water, the ashes from small campfires dusting the wind like snow, the boats dropping anchor at midnight under moonlight.

Jinja feels like the beach, like a summer without memory, and without regret.

Eden was where God first walked with man, it was in creation that God made himself known and that still stands true. We need more of it in our lives.

God still speaks if we are brave enough to listen. I’ve been reading a lot of Isaiah…of course Can’t get enough of that old prophet.

”I am the Lord who teaches you to profit who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commands, then your peace would have been like a river.” Is. 48

The first command being “love the lord your god.” I know I don’t do it enough.

Keep praying for me—I am still figuring out what to do, but it no longer matters as much. I can’t complain and I’m learning how useless it is to anyway. The words we speak over ourselves do matter. Two thumbs up for positivity. I am learning that wherever I go, whatever I do, God goes with me…like God said to King David,

“Do what is in your heart to do, and I will go with you.” ( II Sam 7:3)

I did meet a woman here who reminded me about a woman whose name I was actually given before…she works with child mothers in Kitgum…so it’s a definite option.

Will try to send pictures soon. Until then imagine me in my little hut overlooking a scene probably much like the garden of Eden. Green. Palm trees. And a tropical river.
Mto Moyoni means heart of the river, in Swahili, but I think of it more like river of my heart.
Go get out into the wild. Like campbells’ soup–It’ll do you good.

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