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Photo Essay from Nepal: Bahini (Little Sisters)

Click HERE to view the photo essay “Bahini” (or “little sisters”) from my recent sojourn in Nepal after the first of two massive earthquakes struck the tiny Himalayan nation, on my photography site Flaneur.Guru.

Ministries of Presence: A Report from Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal—The Boeing 737 loaded with relief supplies and caregivers touched down at Tribhuvan International Airport six days (nearly to the minute) after the first of two cataclysmic earthquakes wrecked havoc on the tiny Himalayan nation of Nepal.

Joining me aboard the flight from Singapore were a few other journalists from the United States and Europe, a team from the China Lingshan International Rescue in their distinctive fire engine red uniforms, and several dozen surgeons from South Africa who had come to Nepal with Gift of the Giver organization, an NGO founded in 1992 by a Sufi sheik from Istanbul.

Among us were Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains—people of good will of many religious traditions and none at all. What we had in common was a desire to help the gentle people of Nepal (one of the poorest nations in the world) who had suffered through the devastation of an earthquake on April 24 so massive that it actually moved the global satellite positioning of its capital city by nearly 10 feet.

For some of us, that assistance took the form of pulling corpses and a few miraculous survivors from the concrete and brick ruins of homes, businesses, and even houses of worship leveled by the first earthquake. (A second earthquake of nearly the same size—7.3 on the Richter scale—struck Nepal on May 11, the day after I returned to California from Nepal.)

Others—the healers from Africa and elsewhere—would offer relief to the traumatized during grueling shifts in Nepal’s overwhelmed hospitals, in surgical theaters, setting broken bones, stitching wounds, and compassionate bedside care.

Interspersed among us, undoubtedly, were those hoping to offer some kind of spiritual aid, solace, or direction to the Nepalese. In generations past, we might simply have labeled this cohort “missionaries,” visitors hoping to share their version of the gospel truth with the broken and brokenhearted.

Continue reading the entire report at Religion Dispatches HERE

@PONTIFEXCELLENT: The Graft Stops Here

<> on May 18, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.Yes he’s a sweetheart, but Papa Frank is also tough as nails.

In his homily at early morning mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae (the hostel where he lives), the pope talked about bribery — a practice that has become, in some quarters of his new country and Vatican City itself — all too common.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Il Papa said, in part:

“Devotees of the goddess of kickbacks” bring home “dirty bread” for their children to eat….”Their children, perhaps educated in expensive colleges, perhaps raised in well-educated circles, have received filth as a meal from their father,” rendering them “starved of dignity,” he said in his homily, according to Vatican Radio.

“Perhaps it starts out with a small envelope (of cash), but it’s like a drug,” he said, and “the bribery habit becomes an addiction.”

Annus Mirabilis: A Year of Miracles

A year ago today, a sick little boy from Malawi walked through the the arrivals gate at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and became our son.

This miraculous year has been so full of wonder, love, indescribable joy and staggering grace, we can scarcely fathom all that has happened.

Profoundly grateful doesn’t even begin to capture how we feel.

The privilege of becoming parents to this amazing person is the greatest blessing of our lives together. The front-row seat from which we’ve watched him grow, blossom, learn, heal, love, achieve, and absolutely flourish – our absolute greatest joy.

Thank you to the doctors at Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, IL who healed his heart. Thank you to everyone – family, friends and total strangers – who made the epic change of this last year possible. Your hands made this miraculous year what it was.

Zikomo kwambiri, from the bottom of our healthy, full hearts.

Chisomo,
Cathleen, Maurice and Vasco