Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Grafted In To The Good Tree

The image here of the tree was somewhat randomly inspired and dreamed up by a graphic artist we know who was willing to help us design T Shirst for our Burundi Team. The image is becoming less random…and this friend is becoming more unknowingly prophetic. Let me explain…

There is an illuminating quote in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, which gripped me when I first heard it. Now, it is helping me understand how I feel now that I have gone and returned from Burundi, Africa. The quote comes from a character that is a lifetime missionary…a man whose wisdom and spirituality is forged in the trials and beauty of kingdom work in the Congo. He shares this insight with some frustrated missionaries that he has stopped to visit…in an attempt to say, “Press on. Be faithful to the Lord and faithful to these people you are here to serve.” Here is what Brother Fowler says to them:
We are branches grafted on this good tree…the great root of Africa sustains us…

Since leaving Burundi just about one week ago, I have been trying to make sense out of how I have been feeling. I have asked questions of myself, written in my journal, dialogued with my wife and friends who were on the team. This feeling has been elusive and has a knack for remaining undiscovered and unnamed. Pesky little thing! It taunts me and talks trash. Lord, have mercy.

Reflecting back on this quote, however, has shed a sliver of light on the whole situation. Like a light shining through a keyhole into a pitch black room, it doesn’t unlock the door, but it can provide just enough light (and hope) to reveal the way out. So, I wouldn’t say that I’ve stumbled upon Clarity, but I do think I’m making some headway. While I have made the 2 day journey home from Africa, unpacked, taken a hot shower, and spent 2 days at work…I still have not returned home from Burundi. Not fully. Not all of me. Part of who I am was grafted onto that good tree. Part of me has been intertwined with the roots who are the people that bring life the country of Burundi.

When I think about this good tree, I think about other branches that have been grafted in: Sara, Seth and Trina, Dan and Tambry. I also think of some of the roots I’ve been intertwined with: Sophonie, Irene, Emmanuel, Pastor Pierre. To be completely severed from these branches and roots would require a significant loss…even a death. I may have returned back to Grand Rapids, MI USA…but I remain in Burundi. To change that, you will have to hack away, burn, destroy what has been grafted together. Go ahead and try. Lord, have mercy. On you…

The ongoing question, then, is… “How do I stay connected to the part of me that remained in Africa? How do I sustain the seed and life that was sown on this 2 week trip to Burundi?” I think there are a multitude of answers to that question. Simple answers. Hard answers. Answers I will continue to listen to, ponder, and (hopefully) live out. But, in the mean time, these questions unearth a fear that I have. That fear will be the focus of another entry soon to come.
Stay tuned.

8 Comments:

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Megan DeFranza said...

Amen. Lord, have mercy!

I watched "Blood Diamond" several days ago on your recommendation. Your going to Africa and turning my thoughts to places of need and pain and beauty and strength and wisdom is good for me. It is so easy to think that this world, the USA, is the world... It is a veil pulled over our eyes. Lord, have mercy. Help us to see and love and act in ways that are faithful and good and true.

Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts, for your sake and ours.

Peace,
Megan

 
At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg, every time I go on some kind of missions trip or excursion of some kind I always feel somehow attached to the people and the experiances I have met. the big thing that you seem to be facing now is how to make sense of those thoughts and feelings that are swelling inside you. I can't answer those questions for you because I don't know what God is telling you. All I know for sure is the trip probably had more impact on those who went (you) than those you met and visited in the country. and this trip will forever change you if you allow it too. the question I have to ask myself when I have some things like this is this: what did I learn about the heart of God? who I am too be because of this? and is this all true? what is my responce? maybe these questions are wrong for you to answer and you have a different set to answer for yourself that God has impressed upon your heart. But I am glad you went and had the experiance. Gods peace to you on this whole experiance before and after.

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger Greg said...

megan (and others)

If you have particular topics or questions about our experience, don't hesitate to ask and I will try to work those in. Your questions might give me more interesting ideas to write about.

greg

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger ARK said...

oh I am so sorry, the anonymous post was mine. I hit the wrong button

Alan

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Africakid said...

Hi,found your blog through a link at my brother Dan Brose's blog--that's great that your team went to Burundi! May God continue to use that experience in your life and the lives of others.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Greg said...

africakid,

It was great to be in Burundi and to meet your brother. It's hard for me to imagine a person that could be a better fit to lead the WR team in Burundi. I know it's hard for them to leave, but hopefully they will continue to have an impact on the people and country of Burundi.

 
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At 3:36 AM, Blogger Lo Lo said...

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