Friday, May 12, 2006


When I was in Kosova in 2003, all I could feel was sympathy and empathy, for both sides, all the victims of a corrupt situation. Every one we met seemed to be a beautiful soul who had suffered but was trying to put together the pieces, and living as best they could.

This time, a longer stay, I saw glimpses of illogical and irrational people – even those who would speak of reconciliation in one sentence, and the next denigrate “those people” and talk about how they have seen “what they’re capable of.” What had changed in two years? The people, or my understanding of the situation?

Part of me wanted to give up. But a bigger part of me thinks about the little girls skipping down the street, holding hands and whispering and giggling. Or the day I saw Agron’s little girl Denisa outside the house with her brothers. Denisa, petite for her 6 years, has bright brown eyes that take up most of her face. They lit up when she recognized me. Just like the grown ups, she gripped my hand tightly, pulled me down to her height and overwhelmed me with energetic kisses on both cheeks.

The night Denisa received her Christmas box from Samaritans Purse, she wisely chose the biggest package, and shrieked in excitement as she pulled out each toy from the box. Denisa didn’t make a move that night without lugging the box along, almost half her size. Her father told us later that she slept with box cuddled under her arm like a teddy bear.

There is hope - in Denisa and kids all around Kosova. Whether for peace and reconciliation or rampant consumerism, I'm not sure. But I'm counting on the former.


Friday, May 05, 2006

In the Details

"Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. ... Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn't matter. ...

Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency. A writer must say yes to life, to all of life. ... Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are. ... We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing. -- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones