Monday, October 8, 2012

Catching the Monkey

It's time.  I love to write.  I tell myself I can be a writer.  I have scraps of paper and notebooks and quotes strewn all over my office, in my purse, and in my home.  I write weekly sermons, monthly newsletter articles, thank you notes, blessings, and prayers.  It's time.

I wrote every night while serving in the Peace Corps.  Two years of my life is chronicled - the pain, the homesickness, the astounding joy, the inspiring people, the misunderstandings, the adventures, the love and the joy.  All written.  All saved to reveal a part of myself that I continue to learn from and continue to live into.

A constant theme in my African journals was the alternating feelings of joy knowing that I was a part of the family in my compound and feelings of sadness and confusion at not understanding my surroundings.  Learning African proverbs during my time in The Gambia helped me to learn the language and understand a bit more about the culture.  So I learned the proverbs.  I memorized them.  I said them quickly to feign my ability to actually speak and understand the language and culture.  I shared my new proverbs weekly to get a laugh.  I tried to be a part of the community.

"Slowly, slowly is the one who catches the monkey in the bush."

My first proverb.  I think all new Peace Corps trainees learned this one.  We knew it would take time and patience and lots of mistakes before learning the language and communicating.  We knew we had to roll up our sleeves and stick our hands in the food bowl whether we knew what we were eating or not.  We knew we had to hear endless children yelling our names and asking for candy.  We knew we had to face not being in control and not being able to take matters into our own hands.  Heaven knows that we couldn't even buy our own pieces of fabric to make our own clothes!  It takes time to learn how to live and be in another culture.  It takes patience.  It takes an open heart and mind.  It takes a spirit to know that we are the ones who need to be saved.  

"Slowly, slowly is the one who catches the monkey in the bush."

We knew that we were the ones catching the monkeys in the bush.  Deep down we knew that somehow and someway we would always be searching for that monkey, seeing the monkey in front of us but never getting our hands around him or her.

And it is now six years later since returning from The Gambia and I am still searching for that monkey in the bush.  She's taken on different forms and shapes over the years.  At different times she's shown herself more openly and hidden more deeply.  But I still keep searching.  I still keep moving forward.

And I write.  So today as a hope for continually searching and dreaming, I hope to share a bit of my journey with you all.  Whoever you may be.  Where ever you are.  Whatever monkey you are chasing.  And wherever your journeys take you.  

Come with me and search slowly and prayerfully for that monkey.




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