Friday, June 22, 2007

Baptism by Flood, I

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Our pastor, Cindy, began this week’s sermon with a harrowing story of a flood in which our dear friends, Kevin and Karen, were caught up. Karen is a Chaplain serving in an Interfaith Context at Al Akhawayn University in Muslim Morocco. Her ministry is one of dialogue, encounter, and service, not proselytism. We need more Kevin and Karens in our world today.

This is Karen's powerful story of what she calls her "second baptism."

On September 28, 1997, Kevin and I were returning from Rabat (having led worship and Sunday School there). In our car also were Leslie Coghlan and Safaa Kaddioui, colleagues from AUI, and Safaa’s sister, Sahar, a medical doctor. We drove through heavy rain from the time we left Rabat, unusual for September. We made it through some rather deep water between Boufkrane (40 km from Ifrane) and El Hajeb (27 km from Ifrane), but thought that we were through the worst of it because we were going into the mountains.

However, on the west side of El Hajeb, at about 5:30 PM, we discovered that traffic was stopped. After we had sat there not moving for a while, Sahar and I went to see if we could find out what was happening and call folks to let them know Kevin and I would be late for church!

We couldn’t find a phone in the cluster of cafes closest to us; Sahar said she would walk on up further and call while I returned to the car to let the others know that there was indeed water across the road and the cars were waiting for it to recede. As I walked out of the café sidewalks behind me exploded with the force of water from the overwhelmed drains.

When I got back to the car, left lane of the road was becoming a river. Then we saw a car headed down the side of the mountain in the left lane; no one was in the vehicle. The newly formed “river” had taken the car. Then other cars followed. We pulled our car as high up on the curb as we could get it. Then we abandoned the car, and tried to walk higher up to safety. As I walked up, I was banging on the windows of other cars, telling people to get out.

Fast moving rivulets of water were constantly overtaking the sidewalk in various configurations, depending on what vehicles were being pulled down. I was knocked down by the force of the water as we walked through one of these and lost my sandals and my broomstick skirt (fortuately, I was wearing biking shorts underneath!). I have no idea who all held on to me to keep me from being dragged away that first time I fell.

More coming...

Baptism by Flood, II

Cormorant Stretching
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We walked to the highest ground we could reach before being cut off by water on four sides. Then we heard a voice – it was Amine Bensaid calling to Kevin. He had been a few cars behind us, and it trying to climb up the hill, he and his wife had gotten separated (due to the changing patterns of the water as they climbed). Kevin went back with him to help him find her. He said to me, “I have to go with him.” And I said, “Yes, but you have to come back.”

I prayed then, “Okay, Lord, what can I do to stay calm?” And I thought of my feet. I quickly put on running shoes that I had in my overnight bag (which I had slung over my shoulder). Soon, Kevin reappeared with Amine, his wife Samya, and Leslie (who had also gotten separated from us). I kissed Samya and put my arm around her as water dripped off our faces.

I realized that we were at a great risk of being swept away in the flood. I said to Kevin, “We should climb up in that tree. He said, “No, we’re staying right here.” (After the flood, half of that tree was gone, as it had been hit by something big…) I said, “We should try to climb up on that wall, because I think it goes all the way to the café area where I was.” He said, “No, we’re staying right here.” Minutes later, the wall exploded from water.

Then I saw that the water had dragged down a bus and a big truck which were forming a sort of dam. I said to Kevin, “When that blows, we’ll be swept away.” And that is what happened moments later: the “dam” burst, and truck, bus, cars and a wall of water came straight at us. We were swept away in the flood.

Under the water, I found myself praying, “Lord, I never thought I would die by drowning.” And I felt the Lord say, “There are worse things than dying.” And I felt so loved, so “held”. Then my head popped up out of the water. Then I was under again. (You can’t swim in force of water like this, by the way…) Then my head came up again and I heard another voice, Kevin’s this time, screaming, “I’ve got you, I’ve got you.”

More coming...

Baptism by Flood, III

Cormorant Rising
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My computer scientist husband had dropped his computer and grabbed my raincoat as the water hit us. It was as if his words were saying out loud what I had already felt God doing – holding onto me, in death, or better yet, in life.

Kevin had hooked his feet on something as the rush of water, rocks, and vehicles swept over and around us, so that we weren’t swept into the ravine. Then the rush of water was past and we were in about six inches of fast moving water. Kevin said, “You have to get up and walk now.” I tried, but fell down in the water. I started to crawl. He said, “No, you have to walk.” I stood up and walked. We saw a tree, there were hands reaching down to us. I took them, we crawled up and began embracing a man in the dark who kept saying Alhumdullillah [“All praise belongs to God” –dan] as he cried.

After a time, Kevin said he was too cold to stay in the tree any longer. He said he would see if it seemed safe for us to try to go back up to the road. (We had no idea if and when another rush of water would come, and it was still raining hard.) Kevin soon came back with Leslie, who was wandering around semi-conscious. He was hurt.

I held on to Leslie. Kevin went away, and came back after some time, telling of helping some badly injured people to be lifted up to the road. We walked back to the road side and were pulled up onto it by many hands. We were all directed into homes where people were taking us in.

In the house, all of us flood refugees, covered in mud, were offered tea. One man looked at me a while and said, “You are the one who told me to get out of my car. Thank you.”

Another man went to see what had happened to all the cars. He reported that they were all swept away. I still had my traveling handbag, and in it were wheat-free cookies I had baked for Kevin in an airtight container. I passed them around the room. A little girl, whose mother had left to see if she could find her husband, from whom they had been separated, wound up sitting in my lap, as the cookies had ended up with me.

After listening to us speak English for a while, she looked up at Kevin and began to sing, “Happy Birthday to you” in English. What was uncanny was that she had no idea that it was, indeed, Kevin’s birthday. That was simply the only English she, at the age of three, knew.

Some of the women took me and gave me a bath and dressed me in clean clothes. Safaa and Sahar somehow found us, and Sahar told of having tried to help many dying people. She bound Leslie’s arm in a splint. We worried about Amine and Samya. I had theological conversations with people who commented on the fact that I was wearing my cross and had my Bible in my bag.

One said God must love me – that’s why I was saved. I reacted as strongly as I have ever reacted to anyone saying, “NO! God loves each and every person who died tonight just as much as God loves me.” We didn’t know yet that Samya, who had been standing next to me, had been killed.

By Karen, who has the soul of a lion

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Youth Group Canoe Trip

Youth Group
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The youth made an outing to Tom Wallace Lake in Jefferson Memorial Forest for a day of canoeing and cavorting. We had planned on canoeing the Blue River, but the drought means that we'd have spent much more time portaging than paddling.

A grand time was had by all.

I thought I'd post a few favorite water-related quotes along with a few photos from the trip. Enjoy.

The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.

Lynn Noel

It is pleasant to have been to a place the way a river went.

Henry David Thoreau

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

Psalm 46:3

Roger and Friends Canoeing

Roger and Friends Canoeing
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We sat on the bank and the river went by. As always, it was making sounds to itself, and now it made sounds to us.
It would be hard to find three men sitting side by side who knew better what a river was saying.

Norman Maclean

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

Norman Maclean

The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

Norman Maclean

Adam, Andy and Molly

Adam, Andy and Molly
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
...perhaps our grandchildren, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters...glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.

Aldo Leopold

We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields, and we ask that they teach us and show us the way.

Chinook Blessing


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
"THE River," corrected the Rat.
"And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!"
"By it and with it and on it and in it," said the Rat. "It's brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It's my world, and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we've had together..."

Kenneth Grahme, "The Wind in the Willows"

Monday, June 11, 2007

West Louisville Girls' Choir

Sarah Grace and Sara Burton were part of a choir camp the first two weeks of summer. Man, the WL Girls and Boys Choir people are great at what they do.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Logical Song

Jesse Rocking
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
When I was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees
Well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, oh playfully watching me

But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical...

Now watch what you say
Or they'll be calling you a radical
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal
Oh won't you sign up your name
We'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, oh presentable, a vegetable...