Saturday, February 27, 2016

I cut my fingernail this morning while slicing up some vegetables for a soup. That's right my fingerNAIL. Of course, I couldn't find it so I have probably stirred it into the soup and will eventually eat my own fingernail. If that's not gross enough, I now only have about 3/4 of a fingernail on one of my fingers. So, there's that.

I go to bed early, ten pm at the very latest. I usually get up in the night for an hour or two and I pray, or think, or watch the fish. And then I go back to sleep for a few hours. Yesterday when I was up in the middle of the night I heard something going on outside. At first, I thought I was just imagining things, but then it became really clear that something was going on out there. So, I went to the door and looked through the peephole, but it was too dark to see anything. But I could definitely hear something out there, and it wasn't the cat. So, I turned on the light and threw open the door all at the same time and found myself staring at some guy who took off running. Then I saw another guy running. So, I yelled after them to get off our lane. Then I went back to bed.

This morning I sent a We Chat message to Timothy, that's Mr. Teng's son who knows a little English. He said that he already knew and that everybody on the lane thinks I am very brave. So, I basically said OK, but we should all leave our lights on to keep the thieves off the lane because I'm pretty sure those are the guys who have been stealing our bikes. Later the police came to talk to me. And when I went out for my walk some people came out and were very congratulatory of me for scaring off the thieves. We assume they are thieves, anyway. So, that's the story of how I became a heroine for a day. My fifteen minutes.

I was feeling kind of down about work because I am now the only foreigner in my office with four Chinese people. We all get along well enough, but they never talk to me unless they need something. I am left out of all the office chatter, which is OK. But it would be nice to have someone to talk to once in awhile. But, on Thursday, I got a new desk in a new office with a lot of foreigners in it. So that will be better for me. And it's warm in the new office. I don't know what it is about Chinese people, but they open the windows in the dead of winter and wear their coats inside. Then they'll look at me and say, "Are you cold?" and I just want to say... Well, I'm trying not to talk like that during Lent, but it's not very nice. So, anyway, it's working out for me with the new warm office full of foreigners. There are some Chinese people in there too, but it's about half and half.

I had a long walk this afternoon. That felt good.

I realize that fear has been ruling me for about a year now, and I don't like it. So, I am making some changes. I am just not going to be fearful. Something happened that made me fearful, and that was reasonable at that time, but it's not reasonable anymore. I've still got some anxiety issues, but I am calling out fear when I see it. And I'm not giving in.

I took a break from writing the Sunday essay at The Episcopal Cafe and that was good. I used that mental space for other things for a few weeks and it was really good for me. But I am glad to be back at it. I don't think last week's essay was my best, but I got started again. I have enjoyed spending my week with Moses, Jethro, Jeremiah, and even Jesus, though I don't understand that thing with the fig tree. I've got questions about that. I really do. But what I am starting to understand is that exile is a theme running from Eden almost to the eschaton and that we'd better give it some thought. So I think my essay will be about that. 

We did have a sad event on the lane while I was away. The bird at the end of the lane died. It was a frumpy old bird, but I am sad that it died. 

My neighbors seem glad to have me back. This evening some of them asked me to sit with them for awhile, so I did. It's hard for us to talk, but we try a little. Also, we just sit. 

Mr. Teng's wife feels especially close to me now for some reason. Her mother died right before I left. On the last day before I left they burned all the mother's possessions and I was there. I was just walking by. But I didn't know what to do so I stopped. Really, I didn't know what to do. So I said a prayer. That I think was unusual, but appreciated because now they all love me. 

It surprises me how many people want me to pray for them, citing their own lack of religion. And I tell them that they can pray for themselves, that God is waiting to hear from them. But they believe this is impossible because they have no religion. But because I have religion... So there is a challenge to get people from believing in my God to believing that my God is their God too. I haven't worked that out yet. Obviously western logic isn't working. But I am floundering in how to make that possible for the Chinese mind.

So, that's kind of a catch-up.