Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It's a cloudless night with a clear view of thestars and 59 degrees (F).

Not here in Chicago, of course, where it is steaming in the mid 90's! But it is clear, here, too, and the stars will be up there, dimmed by city lights.

The cooler weather is in what I think of as a hot place, Rabat, Morocco. Same stars, same moon, same blog, but in about six weeks, I'll be there!

Once again as for the last four summers the Husband of Great Understanding will wave goodbye to the plane, and I will set off for...who knows? Lost luggage? Pit toilets? Children's psych hospitals? Hot road walking and cold showers? People for whom I will be the foreigner. People gracious enough to allow me in their lives for a brief time, to teach, to assist, to share some of my world and be a tiny part of theirs.

On this fifth trip I am starting to compare and contrast not only the life in the place I visit with my own, but with my limited observations from other trips. The women, in particular, as our gender moves to what comes next in the workplace as we delight in mothering. How does the widow in Umphumulu, South Africa look next to the one from Dharmsala, India? What are the career choices of a young women in Jindezen, China, compared to the ones in Yaroslavl, Russia? What piece of the global vision will Morocco reveal?

Morocco offers another opportunity to add to the puzzle of faith and the way it is lived out in real people’s lives. I have visited Hindu and Buddhist temples without the tour guide, participated in Russian Orthodox and Chinese Christian worship, watched a funeral anniversary in South Africa. Now I look forward to a country that is primarily Muslim. I have read books, and histories, heard the lectures on the basics of the faith, but what is the spiritual daily life of the Muslim?

I read fiction about the country before I go, as well as guides, entering the lives of  people more like the ones I may meet.

What do I take with me to share? The fact that I volunteer to be out of my world and into another is often perceived as a gift. The value I place on the new culture by listening and learning. The curiosity to communicate and the hope I find in life has been contagious. It is all I have. It is all I am.

What do I expect in return? Reality – horn honking, different smells, dirt roads, struggles of daily life. As we react to them in human ways and with human limitation, we are never so different as we are similar.

After all it is the same stars overhead.