One of my desk drawers is filled with old calendars, which I’ve been saving as a prop for a faulty memory. I suspect it’s a fruitless exercise. Appointments and to-do lists, however necessary, don’t add up to a life, and the dates that really do matter return like faithful comets.
The Christians gathered at Duke for the weekend had come from places marked by destructive ethnic and tribal violence and conflict: South Africa, Sudan, the United States, India and Rwanda. They posed challenging questions: How can we find paths forward in the wake of destructive violence and conflict? How do we bear witness to a Christian vision of reconciliation?
When I visit art museums, I always reward myself with a trip to the gift shop at the end. I may not be able to afford any of the masterpieces that I have seen on display, but I can take away some postcards or a souvenir booklet to refresh my memory.
At a dinner in honor of a prominent guest, I was seated next to a woman who works for CBS.The tsunami had just struck off the coast of Sumatra with all its destructive force, and we were talking about the magnitude of desolation, the plight of the victims and the insanity of the event. She knew I was a theologian, so she broached the question of God. “Where was God?” she asked bluntly.
Josephine Finda Sellu, a nurse supervisor, is on the front line of the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. She lost 15 of her nurses in rapid succession. As other workers left the hospital, her family begged her to quit her job. Some of her colleagues have been abandoned by their families due to fear of the disease. Usually a tower of strength, Sellu cries when she talks about the nurses she’s lost to the disease. She sometimes wishes she had become a secretary instead, but she sees her job as a healer as a calling from God (New York Times, August 23).