Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Praying for Kenya

I don't know how many of our Pagan readers have been following the situation in Kenya; I suspect more Quakers are aware of it for the same reason I am: Quakers are present in Kenya in large numbers--in fact, African Quakers outnumber their American cousins. And as an American Friend, and especially as an American Friend with ties to Kenya, through my Yearly Meeting's affiliation with Friends United Meeting (FUM), I've felt a need to learn more about and reach out more to Quakers in that part of the world.

This summer, Peter and I had the great joy to meet Eden and Jim Grace, who are field staff for FUM, serving in Kenya--in a hospital and at offices in the city of Kisumu, where levels of violence have been severe.

It's not that peace or the people of Kenya are more important because I happen to know and care very much about one small family working in that part of the world. But the terrible nature of the violence is so much clearer to me because I am afraid, personally, for people I know (at least a little bit) personally.

There is not enough goodness--plain, unpretentious, open-hearted kindness--in the world. I found it in Eden and Jim. I wish it were possible to tell them to you as a story, to make real for you how funny Eden is, or how she and Jim fit together like pieces of a puzzle... How good they both are at listening, or how good it was to talk about ordinary stuff (kids coming up on adolescence, parenting, books).

I wish I'd had more time with them this summer, so they could have made more stories for me, of the men and women and children of Kenya they spend their days with, so they would be more real to me, too. But my heart is invested and awake to Kenya because of the connection we did make. And perhaps my words to you may wake some connnection for you, too.

Gentle reader, whether Pagan or Quaker or both, may I request you light a candle, say a prayer, and/or hold in the Light the Graces and the Kenyans (Quaker and non-Quaker alike) they love so well?

This prayer request is from John Muhanji, head of FUM's African Ministries Office, who writes that at least as of yesterday, the Graces, their colleagues the Richmonds, and he are safe.
The country Kenya is now in chaos now and many people are dying and properties destroyed as a reaction to the announcement of the results. We are appealing for prayers that calmness may come to our country.

Peace and unity may prevail in our country. We are all safe wherever we are. Pray for Kenya!! Pray for Kenya!!!
God bless,

John Muhanji

The request comes to us via among Friends, courtesy of Carol; this is the blog I'll be checking with for updates. More information on Eden and Jim Grace and their colleagues can be found at the FUM International Field Staff page, where I found the picture of the Graces and their sons.

Carol suggests the blog Kenyan Pundit for further information, though the author's latest post is about her decision to leave the country; if her resolution holds, then it is mostly background information that will be available there. (Though what I've read thus far is excellent, and there are many links to additional Kenyan blogs.)

As for me, I'm printing up a picture of the Graces, and lighting a candle for peace and safety, for them and for the people of Kenya. In my heart and in my cauldron, I'll keep a prayer going.

Keep me company?

UPDATE: Friends United Meeting has posted an update on the situation of their staff, who are all safe at the moment.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cat. You have verbalized so well what I've been struggling with as I've been posting.

It's not that peace or the people of Kenya are more important because I happen to know and care very much about one small family working in that part of the world. But the terrible nature of the violence is so much clearer to me because I am afraid, personally, for people I know . . .

It helps me feel not so guilty that my immediate concerns are for my personal friends, who are Americans.

Thank you, also, for connecting with our blog at "Among Friends." Connections help in times of helplessness.

I had hoped to say hello to you at Woolman Hill in October when the FUM board met there, but that got lost in the swirl of things. As it is I said hello to Peter as he passed me a brownie.

I wonder. Is this what it is to be a Friend? To be in prayer for a terrible situation on the other side of the world, while remembering a plate of brownies being passed?--Carol

chavala said...

Thanks for posting this - I'll be sharing it forward. I attended Earlham College and did my study abroad in Kenya, so the recent news has been heavy in my heart. Also, there's some excellent background information about the pro-democracy movement in Kenya in Wangari Maathai's recent memoir, Unbowed.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hi, Carol,
Maybe it's what it is to be a human, "to be in prayer for a terrible situation on the other side of the world, while remembering a plate of brownies being passed." Like we all need bridges of ordinariness and personal relationship to engage with anything outside ourselves...

Sigh... I'm struggling for words to thank you for posting here, for meeting Peter in October (if only over a brownie), for writing what you've written... I think I'm struggling because it's nothing more complicated than being awake to how much each individual matters, since there are people we know who are in danger.

I am so grateful for the connection. Thank you for stopping by.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Thanks Chavala--for the comment, the forwarding, and for the book tip. Carol is right--I, also feel some sadness and guilt that "my immediate concerns are for my personal friends, who are Americans," but reading more will help me feel the ways I am part of those I don't know personally.

If I can do nothing else, I can try to learn more about Kenya and its people. That's another kind of magic, another kind of prayer, perhaps...

Plain Foolish said...

I've started a candle group for Kenya over at gratefulness.org

http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/candles.cfm?l=eng&gi=kenya

I think perhaps that we often need a story, a point of connection, to begin to make it "real" to us. Thank you.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I'll start some work this evening, after the void moon passes.
I'm a little closer to this geographically, but you're closer where it counts.
Love,
Terri in Joburg

Riverwolf said...

Cat, I'll join you and support you in prayers for your friends and for Kenya. It's an awful and frightening situation. To be honest, I don't know how much I believe in actual prayers, but I will hold them close nonetheless.

Sarah Katreen Hoggatt said...

Cat,
I hope this finds you well. I came across your blog and read your post on the post election violence in Kenya in 2008, specifically on your concern for the Grace family. I just got back from Kenya where I spent quite a bit of time with Eden and her family. She is indeed one of the kindest and most gracious people I've met. I would also add an amazingly great and relaxed attitude even when sliding down a mountain in the mud in her truck. She taught our delegation a lot about the post election violence as we drove through the affected areas and even saw one of the last burned out stores still standing in Kisumu. They were lessons and sights I will never forget. Thank you for writing about them. As a side note, I noticed you mention Peggy Senger Parsons every once in a while on your blog. She's my pastor and if you don't already know, she has collected her stories into two books that are good reading. In fact, we know many of the same people. Thanks again for sharing your voice, may you be blessed for doing so.

Sarah Katreen Hoggatt

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