The Pool Party

The Pool Party
Jim, Megan, Eli, Esther, Eden and Olive

23 January 2011

Jan. 2nd (part two)

I haven't felt this alive in years
Driving through the Ethiopian countryside
I am transported
This is the Tuscany of Africa
I ride as a guest
Watching flashes of glory pass by

Jan. 2nd

Birthday wishes for me
A children's choir honoring our visit with their voices in Amharic worship
Buna entata (coffee with milk) at our breakfast
Coffee so good- my mouth sang a new song
Our son gently stroking the hair and face of the most striking Ethiopian girl sitting next to us
The church at Mugar serving back to us the bread we had brought
to share with them
And not allowing us to leave without first serving us more coffee
I drank it without cream or milk and could have had five more
Our friend Tsegaye praying over Jim and me
Kneeling down and grasping our feet and weeping his heart for us to God
My son praying with us over two women for Jesus to break through
the chains in their lives
A constant thoughtfulness toward us that was as natural to these African men as nursing infants
with their mothers
I am wordless to tell the story of this grace
My senses and knitted frame have been blanketed in the warm embrace of a people so lovely
So beautiful
I stand changed as a new year dawns
I rise with the pink and orange and yellow hues of the sun
I lay out arms stretched and palms supine
To bake in its light


An African woman surprised me today
She wore a flowered dress with a white shawl
She came to our gathering at her church building
I called those up for prayer who needed healing
The Spirit led her forward
We prayed and prayed
Our hands on her shoulder and head
She cried tears of God's mercy and
And God spoke to her
I told her he was giving her the new name
of Hallelujah
I told her he wanted to take away her pain and shame from her past
He wanted her to be a leader and mentor to younger women
In wisdom, purity and truth
She spoke no English and I no Amharic
Yet her tears told me that she heard
As I kissed and hugged her as we left
I felt a profound rush of intimacy
A gift of lift and flight
From a woman I'll most likely
Never see again


Sitting up late in a rural cafe
Shay, buna and macchiato
Elias brings out his Connect Four
And engages a hovering group of Ethiopian men
He coaches them using his Amharic
They marvel just as much at the game as they do to an
almost 8 year old blond haired white boy with glasses
All the while the Ethiopian version of "American Idol" is showing in
The background

22 January 2011

Mt. Menagusha

We pass by two "very known mountains" on our journey to Mugar
This from Hailu, our guide
"Eli, look, a mountain" we say
"Climb" says Elijah
I could tell he wouldn't stop asking
His drive to climb fuels his living flesh and muscle
"Tell the Lord your desire to climb" I say
"He will make a place for that"
I watch him bow his head
His yearning tempered by waiting prayer


I wept my way through rural Ethiopia
Through Minke, Minare, Koche, Hella, Mugar and Holeta
Even in Addis
Weeping for every tiny foot caked in wet mud
For every open sore assaulting a child's mouth
Weeping for the smell of poverty
That invades air and morsel and sheet
For cough and disease and exposed need
I wept
Wept for myself who struggled to touch infected skin and layer of filth
Wept for fear of stepping in
To love's sorrow

My Food

I now know what Jesus meant when he told his disciples
"I have food you know nothing about"
I had to wait to eat in Ethiopia
Eating is communal there
You can't get your coffee to go
And there's no pulling out your Clif bar unless you have 8 or 9 to share
As I prayed for the timing of food
While descending a mountain at 10,000 feet
To a church in the valley below
I put on the restraint of waiting
The line was not long
My food was the ripe song of African chants
The washed faces of gladness
And the still sunrise of thanksgivings 
My greedy stomach still cried for bite and swallow
Yet I was fed by the man from Nazareth
Only with hunger forced upon me
Was I able to rest in the company of satiation

21 January 2011

Under Developed Country

A sign reads "Ministry of Water"
No wonder
Water runs one day, the next day dry
Bottled water purchased daily like lattes in the U.S.
I find myself praying for water to wash and bathe
Thankful when it comes even in frigid cold
Singing hallelujah's when it's hot
My son finds some hanging laundry
He starts to engage with it for distracted play
I explain the differences in what we have
And, what is left bereft here
Yet it is I who feel bereft
My heart is opening
They are first world in smile and courtesy
Service and presence
I hope to dig my own well back home
Learning to pump and carry and pour

A Stirring

We came into town
To a schoolroom with dual purpose and use
I stepped onto plush carpet of red mud and damp wood
Our entrance ensued a sudden clapping like the chorus of the heavenly host singing to the
The rawness of emotion crept behind me like the tiptoe of wind
As I looked down at 40 little faces
Hallowed, hungry eyes
Packed on benches in a space the size of our son's bedroom
My heart was suspended from the work of a beat
They were clapping for us
They had waited for us

20 January 2011


Sitting in the back of our Land Cruiser
Three Ethiopian men in front
Concerned for our comfort
Refusing pleas to share our seat
I'm reminded of how I haven't written poetry in almost 5 years
A desert of stifled thought
The words now run ahead of me
I can't keep up
Surprised by milk and honey
Sprinting to the promised land of home

Prima Cafe

Downtown Addis "22"
Espresso doused over hot frothy milk
Streaming down this delicacy like chocolate syrup over ice cream
I ordered two
Zena I wish you were here


We sat in an apartment smaller than our
Living room
The smell of roasted coffee and heated milk wafted into
My very pulse
We ate grain fired and browned and drank the rich dark drink
My caverns under earth and day were seen
Time given for time itself to know and be known
Kids playing Connect Four
The exchange of relationship lingered like a drawn out candle
The wax of communion dripping down
Warmth of friend and fortune
Hospitality like I'd never imagined
I don't want to leave

19 January 2011

Dec. 30th

Joy arrived (late-comers and early ones)
Wedding clothes on
Some exquisite with fine material, shining golds
And deep azures
Others mud-stained
Joy dressed with oozing eyes
And the eagerness of poverty
Lens peeking in
For a matrimony
Joy strewn over the water-logged ceiling with
Streamers and half blown balloons
A processional of joy
In song, girl, boy, candle and beaded basket
Joy encapsulated inside piercing expression of an Ethiopian man
In love
An exhortation wrapped in joy
Gift of word and wisdom
Joy in a face so bright and lit with the flame of
Joy in a drum beat and African chant
Joy's generosity laid out at the feet of the Beloved
Joy bestowing a new identity
Every kiss, greeting and hand clasped
All from joy
All for you

First Flight

For my girl
I love my girl Lord
You, only you know
You know how much I have already failed a four year old
And, how much emotion for her lies beneath the thin layer of ice on the
I wanted to start the trip out leaving these tears behind
And here they are flowing out
I am thinking of Eden Joy
Her sweet face
Waving goodbye to me from the window
The signed fingers saying "I love you"
Sometimes I feel like I am on one side of the river
And she on the other
Yet the river is wide
And it's banks are lined with wildflowers and rushes
Reeds and sunlight
Precious coves of sand
Places to sit and wonder
Water spiders dancing
For my baby

Poem for You

I wrote this while transitioning continents. Its of someone I love dearly.

I thought of you today
I have your earrings on
Dangling jewels of recollection
An adornment of friendship
Quiet acceptance
Waiting love
Calm strength
Hoping through seasons
These things I cherish in you
I wear you with me
I think of why people love you so much-
And I smile
When loneliness hits like a sudden shift in
And I'm left with the raw need for the
Rain that didn't seep deep enough
I remember the gift of you
Right next door