26 September 2016

darling i don't know why i go to extremes.

A perennial thought in my head goes like this: is it good or bad to be an extreme person? 

Many would contend the word "extremist" has a negative connotation. You know, someone who goes too far in his or her beliefs, usually political or religious in nature. Like in a scary, they-are-totally-crazy kind of way. Growing up, however, I listened to a lot of Billy Joel and I long regarded the song "I Go to Extremes" as sort of a personal anthem. My parents would joke that I was a rather extreme person. And now here I am writing a blog post about it. I guess this proves them right.

As a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Tanzania, I feel especially attracted to the extreme - to the edge - a real hallmark of the Maryknoll charism. Of course, I also see great wisdom in the principle of "all things in moderation." This is especially true in situations of conflict when some element of compromise is needed or the very fact that the real truth often lies somewhere in between.

But I am not really comfortable with moderation. Nope, not at all. Moderation itself is a comfortable word and I don't really like comfortable. Like Billy Joel sang, "If I stumble or fall, it's all or nothing at all." I have to be all in on something - go all the way - or it feels uninteresting, disingenuous, or without effect. This is more or less where I stand.

05 September 2016

guests are always a blessing in tanzania.

Let's just get this out of the way: I am a lousy host. Sure I work hard to prepare for visitors and am constantly trying to be mindful of their needs, but I'm also a bit like, "Did you seriously just drop that crumb on the floor and not pick it up? Uh, yeah, it's time for you to go." 

Maybe that's why God had this crazy idea of sending us to Tanzania: to immerse me in a place that is utterly all about guests, a culture that thinks it's totally amazing and wonderful to host visitors. In other words, the past two and a half plus years have given me plenty of opportunity to exercise my hosting skills (AKA hosting attitude). 

In the United States, we joke that only two things are certain: death and taxes. In Tanzania, I'd say it's probably death and visitors, with the latter being planned or unannounced. Most recently, and for the third year in a row, we welcomed visitors from Friends Across Borders (FAB), a mission outreach program run by Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Did I survive? Not only that, but also I was reminded of the joy that comes from a local culture that is all about hospitality.