I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I would mix several of my current thoughts together in one post.
Don’t panic, I’m only saying “Goodbye” to the former URL of this blog, WhydontIblog.etc. That was really just a placeholder name, and I really feel the current name Adventures of Nicole Eclectic (because I’m Nicole and I’m Eclectic and these are my adventures… what a concept! 😛 ). So I decided to dump “why don’t I blog” altogether. I feel lighter already, haha.
I just have to show this off — our garden.
It’s not much, but it’s the most ambitious we’ve ever been with a fruit and vegetable garden, so I’m excited about it. Look at those huge, tall plants. Those are our tomato plants, and I don’t know if you can see them, but they already have little yellow flowers. We had tomato plants long ago at one of our former houses, and I remember those little yellow flowers that turn into tomatoes. So I’m looking forward to home-grown tomatoes very soon.
The rest of our plants are bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. The strawberry plant is that lonely little plant in one corner of the garden all by itself. It has just sprouted its second strawberry. Woo-hoo! I’m looking forward to its ripening and being able to try it. I may have to split it with my 6-year-old, because she loves strawberries.
As a point of comparison, here’s what our garden looked like right after we planted it:
That’s quite an improvement, yes?
Eric and I just added those stones in the center “aisles” yesterday. We happened to find some stones at one side of our house that appeared to be exactly like the ones that were used on the house itself. So we decided to put them into our garden as stepping stones. This means we never actually have to walk on the soil that the plants are growing in, and I won’t get my shoes or my pants dirty anymore when I weed. (In theory, anyway!)
The week before last, our church had our Vacation Bible School. Our whole family participated. Elena was a “student,” Eric was a small group leader assistant, Kiersten worked in the music shop in the “marketplace,” and I was the celebration leader (read: worship leader).
We all had a great time, although it was exhausting, and I won’t lie, I was relieved when it was over. One week every summer is plenty for me, I think!
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because one of the things we encouraged during VBS is what we called “God sightings.” These were evidences of God at work in our lives and in our world. The students were encouraged to share God sightings within their small group every day. The small group leaders then wrote them down and attached them to a little mural, so that everyone could see all the ways God was at work in each other’s lives.
At the beginning of last week, my first Monday without VBS, the concept of God Sightings stuck in my head. I realized that this was something I could do myself. I have a prayer journal that I try to write in every morning, and so while I write my prayers, I also make a point of writing down a God sighting.
Today’s God sightings: the rain (which we really needed, it’s been very hot and dry since the May storms) and my Elena singing. Elena’s singing voice is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.
Today during my devotional period, I read from a book called Finding God in Everyday Life on the Kindle app of my phone. One of the chapters I read was about the concept of bearing witness. She opened the chapter with a story about a horrible thing that happened to an Iraqi Kurdish woman. I cringed, as I usually do when reading about atrocities. The author then got my attention by mentioning how much she tends to recoil at such stories, wishing she hadn’t read them, not wanting to hear about things that happen that we can’t prevent and that are just too horrible to be believed.
It got my attention because I’m the same way.
It’s almost comical how much I tend to shut myself away from the horrible realities of life. Whenever I read about something horrible that has happened to someone else, I feel depressed. I’m filled with sorrow about the evil in the world. I feel helpless. I question why terrible things happen to innocent people. I sometimes want to lock my children away so that they will never come face-to-face with evil itself.
Because I have such strong reactions, I’ve started going to the extreme of refusing to read anything that might upset me. I don’t watch the news on TV for the same reason. I know it’s out there, but I bury my head in the sand because I don’t want to become depressed over the state of the world.
But then I read this:
To bear witness is to allow the barriers that separate us from the suffering of another to be breached. It is to acknowledge the mystical connection we have with every other human being that “…we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)
So what do we do in the face of the terrible suffering about which we feel helpless? We bear witness — we acknowledge our part in it by “what we have done and what we have failed to do,” we offer contrition, and we pray.
As I read these words, something else occurred to me, which I wrote in my prayer journal and will reproduce here.
… I finally see the benefit of bearing witness. Every person who takes a stand and says “this is not right” encourages the humanity of the world. Whenever I have the opportunity to say “this is an outrage and must not be tolerated,” I must, if only to validate the humanity of suffering people. Because people victimized by the worst atrocities are often stripped of just that: their humanity.
I realized that when I shut myself away and refuse to acknowledge the suffering of people I don’t know, I dehumanize them, if only in my own mind. When I pretend they don’t exist, in a sense I’m saying they’re not important, that their suffering doesn’t matter. But every time I take a stand, even if it’s only to tweet “this is terrible,” I can either generate or join a chorus of voices saying “no, this is not right, and we will not stand by idly and pretend it’s not happening.” Voices can spark change, even from half a world away. In this age of social media, that can happen more powerfully than ever.
So this morning I pray for the courage to read these stories and share them and speak out against the evil that men (and women) do. I pray for the strength to not let myself be carried away by depression when I read them. And I pray that our voices can help change the world.
P.S.: if you clicked on a link to this post before it was properly finished (ie, the ending was left off and the photos weren’t there), I apologize. Somehow I managed to click the “Publish” button when I was right in the middle of a sentence. I changed it back to draft as quickly as I could, but the damage may have been done. lol