Thursday, March 03, 2005

I celebrated this Shabbat with my most mysterious brothers and sisters of the sixth day. Shabbat afternoon I prayed in the company of a troupe of baboons who had filled a fig tree near our lodge for a fruit feast. Below them, in the bed of a creek, an animal I had never encountered before approached me. An inyala, Mark told me. Imagine a large deer, with proud, gently spiraling horns. Dress him in a thick, tough leather coat, dark brown-grey. Paint a white stripe on its back, and white stroked beneath its eyes in the style of NFL linemen, add a Mohawk of bead-like fur hanging in a line down the middle of its belly and chin. And then put long yellow socks on each of its feet. This, in all the floating silent grace of a deer or an ibex, moved along the creek, with two young ones its shadow, underneath the fruifeasting acrobatics of the baboons.

Monday catapulted me into Hlabisa--I have been adopted! The Magagula family has taken me in, and I am so relieved to be living life out of a home in a community rather than in an isolated bed and breakfast. They are Seventh Day Adventists, the mother is a retired nurse, and the daughter works at the Medical Research Council on a microbicide trial, so we have been having wonderful conversations about spirituality, AIDS, and many other things. My mentors from America are here now, and with their guidance all my projects are gaining momentum--there is so much to do! Today alone, we spent 5 hours driving in an ill-equipped car through rocky roads winding about rolling green mountain meeting with teachers and community health workers at clinics and schools and other community centers. Tomorrow, after a forum on the local treatment rollout, I fling myself back to Durban, for shabbat, weekend adventures, research about communities we can work in around Durban, more project planning...and before I can even catch the drum circle lesson at the BAT center or meet with the folk at the Treatment Action Campaign, I am flinging myself back northward, to rural Hlabisa, to meet with students at a local high school.

So much has been happening, so, invisible visitors to my lonely planet might ask, WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN POSTING? I confess I have started, gasp, a private journal on my computer, which I have been writing in extensively while my blog mopes and makes faces at me, chastizing me for my neglect. Why a private journal? I have been wrestling with a lot of intensity here, most of which is wrapped up in other people and other communities. I have been wrestling with feelings of judgement, both external and internal, with suffering with frustration with confusion with clarity and love. Because of how intimately others are woven into these experiences and struggles and ecstacies, I have not felt comfortable exposing them to the open atmosphere of my lonely blog planet.
I will, I will, I will keep writing. And I will try to attend to my lonely planet more faithfully.

One month in Africa.


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