Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Living Common Good

It's funny how things sometimes come full-circle.

My job placement is in the Dar. The Dar, as I like to call it, is famous for being very troubled. After having lived there, I can also say that it is probably the closest thing to the 'end of the world' you will ever find. The town I lived in was a state capital which boasted a grand total of 2 paved roads. Surrounded by desert and wide open spaces on all sides, the only way to get there was by plane, helicopter or a 2 day drive. And, I repeat, it is the state capital. My house was nice as far as local accommodation went - we had tiled floors and that is saying a lot! Nonetheless, the rats and hedgehogs were our constant companions, the electricity was on and off and on and off, the Internet was slow as molasses (I might wait as much as an hour to load up an Imperfect Prose blog and could rarely check out photos of my nephew online). For a bathroom we had cold water, except at the end of the afternoon when the water tank was sun-heated, dry pit latrines, and outdoor sinks.

Guest House Four, my home in the Dar, was comfortable enough. We had nice mattresses, a TV and decent food. And floors. This is much more than our neighbours had.

Then something bad happened. I've written on this blog about my emotions when it happened but I can't tell you what happened, not on this blog at least. But because of what happened I had to leave the Dar. Several months of waiting brought me to a new short-term assignment. I'm in Egypt right now doing a new project. And I'm staying at a five-star hotel.

The other night I was brushing my teeth in my marbled bathroom, looking into the backlit mirror and thinking about the contrast between where I am and where I was supposed to be right now. From Guest House Four to Five Star Hotel... because something bad happened. Oh the irony, the unfairness of it all.

But I took comfort in the fact that I am working hard, very hard, here in Egypt. "At least I'm working for it", I thought. And then I immediately was struck by the fact that so many people work as hard as, harder than, me. Fifteen hours a day of breaking their backs kind of work. And they go home to a house in a slum which makes Guest House Four seem palatial at the very least. So effort has nothing to do with it.

Today with some colleagues we had a discussion about what it means to work towards the "common good". Theoretically that is a main goal of my career, and yet how do I reconcile the common good with the strange surreal life that I live?

16 comments:

Old Ollie said...

These paradoxes will get you thinking.

Thought provoking piece.

Nice one KP.

happygirl said...

Common good. Gratitude. Life is not fair. There is no equity in the Common Good. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you so much for your comment last week. I think you are right about my poetry and my prose. Thanks for pointing it out. I'm examining it in my endeavor to be more positive.

Brian Miller said...

you know, nothing is random...you are where you are for a reason...as you work toward the common good use th time and resources you have been given...

Jodi said...

Sometimes I think all we can do is what's in front of us, no matter what. I spent a very short time in an Eastern-European country. When I came back home, I had a hard time getting my head around all the "stuff" we had.

Rambling Heather said...

Yes, very thought provoking as Ollie mentions above.

Elaine said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. Blessings!

Joybird said...

I have no idea but those are really good questions, Kati. I'm struggling with my memory verse right now but it just flashed in my mind: Philippians 4:11-13. Paul talks about learning to be content with almost nothing or with everything. He traveled so much and I always think of his hardships, the almost nothing. But I wonder if the everything moments messed with his head just as much, if not more.

David N. said...

Great thoughts, Kati. This is why I get frustrated when people talk about circumstances (weather, job openings, delays)as though God has only them in mind. Our good fortune usually finds a balance in someone else's misfortune. When a job opens up for us, that's because someone else lost that job. When we get sunny weather in August for a day outside, there are farmers desperately wishing it would rain. It doesn't mean we shouldn't be grateful, but we have to remember the world doesn't revolve around us. Thanks for the reminder.

Carrie Burtt said...

As Brian said....everything happens for a reason....you are where you were meant to be right now....love this post Kati! :-)

tinuviel said...

Thanks so much for commenting on my blog crumbs so I'd have the opportunity to meet you. My husband is a missionary kid, so I have some idea of the process behind your screen name.

May God guide you and strengthen you for where He wants you day by day. Enjoy Easter in England!

emily wierenga said...

oh kati.... God is holding you and directing you, as brian reminds us all... we all have mountains and valleys; enjoy this mountain for one never knows when the next valley will come (sorry, that sounded depressing!) but i, too, am learning, slowly, to let him bless me... so i might bless others. xo

Loni said...

A friend of mine just did a short missions trip in Mexico and said how the higher dignitaries still lived with MUCH less than we do here - in very small places. So much to be grateful for - so much we take for granted.

Anna said...

Good questions-- and a quick word above on your behalf-- where you see paradoxes played out in front of you-- that answers will come.

alittlebitograce said...

In light of what you wrote, my question is rather trite. But I would really like to know what are hedgehogs like in the wild? Are they really annoying like squirrels are here or are they still cute?

More seriously, I continue to pray for you!

Kati patrianoceu said...

Ah, now THAT is a good question. Yes, hedgehogs are utterly adorable in the wild. I kind of hate rodents so they do nothing for me and don't even know what they are like when domesticated. But my housemates all assured me that the little buggers always pulled at their heartstrings. They sure do move slow, though!

alittlebitograce said...

My best friend had a hedgehog for a pet for many years. Cynthia was absolutely adorable and I often cared for her when my friend was away. Hedgehogs make great pets, but I'm not sure I'd like them in my house uninvited. :)

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