Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How do you really judge a vehicle to be road worthy anyway??

Today's day trip to Sidon was lovely, and by about 5pm, we were feeling satisfied and ready to head back to Mt. Lebanon.  Turning onto the main road heading north out of town, we got stuck behind a slow moving motorized wheelchair.  Yes, a wheelchair.  Not to worry, though, we soon enough passed the slumped but impeccably dressed wheelchair driver and continued creeping through the jumbled mass of everything on wheels.  However, the driving dynamics of 5 lanes of traffic trying to use a two-lane road during the evening hours of a major Muslim holiday meant that, pretty soon, that darn wheelchair passed us.  Ouch!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Evidence of God

We were walking up the aged, mossy village stairs on an achingly bright Sunday morning.  My son's little hand in mine, I let it become a moment to probe his heart.  "How do you pray?" I asked.  He lifted two strong fingers and replied, "I say my 'Bless us O Lord' before food, and my bed prayers."  "How come you can talk to God?" I asked, to see what might come next.  He answered, "Because He is in my heart."  I wanted to know more.  "How do you know God is in your heart?"  He replied, "Because he bangs from inside, so it goes thump, thump, thump."  I lit up, "So you know He is in your heart because you can feel Him??"  Peter's voice got excited, "Yeah, He does it all the time!  Thump, thump, thump.  And . . . and . . . you know, you can put your head like this and hear Him in another person's heart too!!"
Oh, Lord, why is it so hard to convince me that You are so close?  Not only is your creative Spirit of Life beating a pulsing lifeblood through my veins, but your Sacred Innocence is all around.  Your Goodness and Mercy are there in my son's hand on a sunny morning on a sacred mountain in Lebanon.  Have mercy on me, a poor sinner who forgets, whose eyes are dim and ears deaf to the evidence that normal life provides.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rock Reflections

I must now fully confess my obsession with rocks.  I don't mean the geological fascination of naming the mineral elements, but the archaeological use of these rocks, their links to the past, the stories they cannot tell.  Living in Lebanon, I touch the Holy Land history in my modern life.  How old is this ruin of stones?  Who saw it?  If this ancient church's rock foundation is 1500 years old, what did the faithful grapple with inside?  What did they understand?  Who taught them?  I know that Elijah, Jesus, and many of the apostles traveled Lebanon's ancient roads, saw the same mountains, felt the same sea breezes.  Where do I fit in after 2000 years?  How close am I to the people who sacrificed to celebrate Christ in the Eucharist, hidden in the mountains, meeting along the seashores, gathering at Lebanon's ports?

My husband rightly anticipates a high level of my "geeking out" over early Church history when we tour this part of the Middle East.  Put me in the middle of a pile of ruined capitals and foundation stones and I'm good to go.  Running my hand along the chisel marks created so long ago connects me, chisels at my spirit to fit me into the structure of this house of Christianity.  Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 19:40, "I tell you, even if they (disciples) kept silent, the very rocks would cry out!"  They do cry out.  They remind me that history exists, and it is called the present.  Now, how do I want to live it?  What do I make of my own history?  What "rocks" will I leave behind to witness to Christ?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The trouble with these sandcastles and their ocean side views is that they keep getting washed away!  What would I like the ocean waves of Lent to wash away?  What should become more permanent, build with a foundation on rock?

A Growing Season

The cold winter rains have passed here in Lebanon.  While we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes and finished our last long yawn, spring crept through every crevice.  Now the signs of all things new have pushed out into every open space.  Lebanon has an uncanny ability to grow what you would not expect.  On my walk this morning I discovered "birds of paradise" flowers, new roses, fruit trees in varying colors of blooms, wild cyclamen, rosemary, blankets of wildflowers, yellow mimosa trees, and one of my favorites, wisteria vines.  As I descended windy stairs from one level of our village to the next, I passed each house's garden with peppers, cabbage, and onions.  It's only March!
My amazement finds its root in the earth these plants use for nourishment.  We live on a mountain of rock, with only a shallow covering of clay and stones to serve as soil for growing.  The plants grow almost in spite of what they are planted in.  Is it any different with the soil of my soul?  I give the Lord poor earth, full of the rocks of sin, and I provide slimy mud when he delivers his sweet rain.  Yet he brings forth such life that I do not deserve.  He grows blessings of sweet scent and color with little encouragement from the life they have entered.  He continues his active work of creation as pure gift, with no connection to my worthiness.  My only work is to make my life an act of gratitude for what He has created, and wow, I have a long way to go!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I just saw that the slide show below is missing all the captions. The building is our apartment (ours is the bottom floor you see, though there is actually another apartment underneath us around the back. The road scenes are our walk to school, International College. There are also pictures of our Halloween party with new Lebanese friends from school. Cheers!

And we have contact!

The Essex family now has internet in the home! So, voila, les photos de notre vie au Liban! Here are some initial photos taken at the start of our time here. It's November now, and it still looks the same. No more grapes on the vines, but just as many flowers and sunshine. We are on our third blooming of roses around our apartment. It's lovely, which helps heal the nostalgic aches for home.
We are going to a neighbor's house tomorrow to learn how to make arak, the national drink. Everyone has a grape vine in the garden or on their roof, and if they don't eat all of the grapes, they use them to make vinegar or this hard alcohol that's mixed with anis seeds. Hey, when in Rome . . .