Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

5 amazing days

Coming to the end of my 18 day visit here in England, blessings abound.

Tuesday: A big day as I get to meet the lawyer who is working on behalf of my dear North African friend seeking asylum. A complicated and not easy case given the law & strong attempts by government to say 'no,' it was difficult to sit and listen to possibilities.

When it was time for me to explain my association and knowledge of my friend, it was hard to fight back tears. Such a fine young man who would be a great credit to any nation. Waiting, hoping, and not knowing for so many years - it is hard to fathom. Due to a need for anonymity, I say no more, only to ask for your daily prayers for him and all the many in need - while those feasting on the fatted calf, feast unrelentlingly.

In the evening it is my joy to take him out to eat - Turkish!

Wednesday: I visited with my good friend, Danny. In addition to running a company, he manages to weekly volunteer with those in need: soup kitchen and spending a night in the LCW homeless over night. His commitment to those in need as well as his spiritual journey & shared reflections are a gift to be sure. What a treat for me! He finally, rioters canceling one outing, was able to take me for 'proper' fish 'n chips! Always a treat to sit & talk with Danny - great insights & an inspiration.

Then it was off by bus to Angel, Islington to meet with Steve. Steve gave up his career in finance to work directly with those in need. Steve is a bright, quiet, engaging young man. We sat for hours discussing politics, conditions that might explain rioting, group dynamics, and social justice. Might sound dry in print, but not at all!

Both men excellent men and great friends. Again, how fortunate I am.

At 7:30 p.m. I was able to join 3 volunteers at the Simon Community for the Wedneday night soup run into central London. Loaded down with sandwiches, soup, coffee and tea, we made seveal stops. At one 150 lined up. What it must be like to have to live like this: individuals out of work, suffering from mental illness, alcoholics...

We cannot afford or allow ourselves to comfortablly wrap ourselves in a closed, protective blanket while so many have so little.

Thursday: A day of rest, not typical of me. My daughter has been known to comment that when we travel toegether, they simply cannot keep up the pace!

I've been fortunate to spend the two weeks with Zelda in her flat in Basildon. A remarkable lady, she has been fun to be with & talk about current issues. In the evening, we joined her sister and friend, Peggy, for dinner and almsot non-stop laughs. Wonderful!

Friday: Each day though unique to itself is a gift. Venturing into London, I met Angela in Kings Cross to view the photography exhibit 'Frontlines,' by Sean Smith. (check out photos on my facebook page.) Angela another interesting & wonderful Brit committed to those in need was great company. The exhibit is extensive and at times difficult to view. Yet, we agreed important so as not to forget or look the other way. Now if only leaders would take note. A Paul VI said at the UN, no more war.

After a capuchino and great conversation, I was off to meet with my three African friends.

We met at the Catholic Worker House: my previously mentioned friend, Kinkella from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tedoros from Ethiopia. The latter two have been granted ''leave to stay.'

I wanted to take them out for dinner or a snack. As Tedoros said, you've been gone a long time. Let's sit and talk.

Eventually we went our for a walk: 3 good looking African men and this grey haired old dude! What a sight. More, what fine men. How is it we are so fortunate to know so many good people!

Today, Saturday: My last full day, after packing & exercise, I will venture back into London to meet my dear African friend. Afterwards, I'll travel to North London to enjoy home cooked Algerian cuisine. We'll dine late as my friend, fasting for Ramadan, cannot eat until 9:00 p.m. Imagine fasting from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. - to recall and be aware of & one with the many who are hungry every day.

I've tried to edit this so as to focus on these fine people. People have paid me compliments etc. That is nice& we each want to be liekd and accepted, but what is important, what matters, what counts is: Any good we do is a reflection of the divine within all of creation, to be relished, celebrated and shared.

I ask only that we pause often to give thanks and praise, and to keep in our hearts and daily action the too many people in real need. The acknowledgment that counts is the experience of love so palpable in so many good people. Namaste!

1 comment:

Nick Jacobs said...

I'm always wondering how I can avoid long travel times. I spend so long looking for cheap tickets, but they always are for the longest routes. Does anyone have good suggestions?


Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.