Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The veil between what Might Have Been

Last summer Mary Glen went to Ethiopia.  She had long dreamt of travel to Africa and the opportunity to teach English in a rural village seemed heaven sent.

There were things that seemed, to me, remarkably civilized--she could travel to the city of Harar and use a computer to send email.  Her cell phone even  worked occasionally and on Daniel's birthday she walked to a coffee shop at a higher elevation and was able to make a call.  Halfway through (he told me much later) she said to him, "I need to leave now.  A guy with an AK just walked in."  That's wild west lingo for AK-47, the most efficient and widely used automatic rifle in the world.

Yet she never felt unsafe or uneasy while she was there.

Until the day the police showed up at dawn at the door of her family's house and asked for her passport and cell phone, and upon receipt of said objects, asked her to go with them, though they did not say where.  Thus began a three day odyssey which involved the members of her program being rounded up in the region and taken into custody in Addis Ababa the capital city.  She was not allowed to say goodbye to her family in Dadar or to call us in the United States.  Embassy access was denied.  On the third day, the government lackeys drove them to the airport and through a series of crazy circumstances the Embassy got wind of the plan, and let me just say, that even in the 21st century, the cavalry does still ride in and save the day.  She arrived home in one piece, physically unharmed, but not unchanged.

I think of this at this late hour because Rayner told me tonight that a young friend of his will be testifying in court tomorrow and has asked for prayer.  Last year he was the victim of a horrible crime and but for an act of God (I mean this in its most literal sense) his life would have been taken.  Tomorrow he must go to court and testify against the person who did this to him.  Someone who still possesses power and connections to harm.

And while I am thinking about and praying for him, I am trying to clean up something I bought on Craigslist recently, for what was, to me, a significant sum of money, now lost because I was cheated.  I don't know if it's because I feel embarrassed that I was duped, but the thought of it makes me angry all over again--furious that I have no recourse, no justice.

Yet held up next to that young man headed into the lion's den of a courtroom, I feel my perspective shifting.  I remember the photo in today's paper of the young people of Iran, taking to the streets despite the fact that it could cost them their lives.  God, give them justice, I pray.  Where is the cosmic margin between what is and what might be; between an AK slung over the shoulder and an AK used?  Some days the veil so thin as to be invisible.  And seeing the world in this way, I realize that I cannot wallow in my bitterness any longer. There is too much at stake to demand justice for foolishness when it is in such short supply for lives.

On the plane ride home from Africa, Mary Glen took this picture.  Every time I look at it I feel the peace and relief of a mighty delivering hand.  May tomorrow give one brave young man the same view.

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