Contemplating new life

My Easter holidays have looked quite different since I moved to Uganda.  I no longer buy bright, flowery dresses to wear to church, I haven’t dyed eggs in several years, and I’ve never seen a chocolate bunny to buy from the supermarkets.  Although these traditions have waned over the last few years in my life, this year, over the prolonged Easter weekend, I contemplated the theme of new life, and found my own ways to celebrate it.

First, Eric and I hopped on a boat after work on Thursday and headed to a peninsula on Lake Victoria to camp at Lagoon Resort.  It was our first time to visit this place, and I have no doubt we’ll be back.  Only a 30 minute boat ride from Kampala, it’s a gem of a place to escape from the city for a night, be surrounded by nature, and eat great food.  We had the whole place to ourselves, so we set up our tent and walked around admiring the different forms of life around us.

 The Spring season of Easter has been replaced in my life by the Rainy season, still bringing with it an abundance of new life, turning all the browns into greens.  We woke up to the rain falling on our tent, but when the rain stopped, we could hear the sounds of several birds in the trees around us.  We took a walk, I took photos of a few different birds and bugs, and marveled at the amount of life that emerges after a good rain.  Eric and I were both able to relax and exercise our creative sides a bit – me with my photography and Eric through some drawing. 

On Saturday, we headed to Entebbe to be with hundreds of our alumni who have passed through Cornerstone schools for the annual Easter alumni retreat.  Eric spoke to the crowd in the morning and we stayed through the afternoon, so I caught up with some alumni who have transitioned into new jobs or marriages and saw the most recent graduates who are preparing to enter into university.  It seems like everyone is entering or leaving a particular stage in their lives, the endings and beginnings blurring together.

To wrap up the weekend, Eric and I hosted a few friends for a Sunday night dinner at our place.  Following a tradition set by another friend and ex-resident of Uganda, our four-course meal was set around a theme for an intentional conversation.  This time, in the spirit of Easter, the theme was new life. 

I gathered quotes from several different sources, including Buddist nun Pema Chodron, Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, cantadora Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran, Sufi mystic/poet Rumi, and even Disney’s The Lion King and Wikipedia; and each of them, along with some wine, helped guide the conversation.  We contemplated many things, but mostly how, in so many ways, life leads to death which leads to life once again.  The seasons of our lives are no different than the seasons that reign over the natural world.  This, to me, is the spirit of Easter.

“The Life/Death/Life nature is a cycle of animation, development, decline, and death that is always followed by re-animation.  This cycle affects all physical life and all facets of psychological life.  Everything – the sun, novas, and the moon, as well as the affairs of humans and those of the tiniest creatures, cells and atoms alike – have this fluttering, then faltering, then fluttering again.”
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves

“The first noble truth recognizes that we also change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon.  We do that, and there’s no reason to resist it.  If we resist it, the reality and vitality of life become misery, a hell.”
-Pemo Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape

On the menu:

Avocado/goat cheese/cilantro appetizers
Tomato basil soup
Ginger cilantro baked Nile perch with rice
Green beans and beans sprouts fried with ginger and garlic
Chocolate oatmeal bars