April 13, 2011

Living on Kenyan Time


It’s funny how life cycles around and things occur in spurts.  Lately God has been bringing Kenya to mind in all sorts of ways.  Every once in a while, but lately more often than normal,  a smell will bring a flashback, or a craving for Kenyan tea will hit or someone will ask me about my trip.  Last time I wrote seemed to be the beginning of the cycle…the tip of the iceberg of memories.  I know that that scar of poverty-witnessed is embossed on my heart, but these reminders have got me to thinking, in what other ways has my life changed since that excellent adventure?
I remember wondering, on the plane ride home, at how my life would ever be the same, ready to change the world or at least my view of it…I also remember mourning how “normal” life returned so quickly once I got home.
One recurring thought is about how I use my time.  “Kenyan time” was a fluid concept, punctuality was more of a loose suggestion then a rule.  It took a while to get used to as an American, especially as a New Englander, but now I wish I could have some of that fluidity back.  I wish I could find a way to work that freedom into my life to put relationships before results and people before punctuality.  In theory it sounds like a good plan, but it’s a lot easier said than done.  I also miss the tea breaks in the morning and afternoon, a time to sip and talk and reflect regardless of to-do lists and deadlines. 
The more I’ve thought about this concept of Kenyan time I guess a lot of this boils down to “living in community” being a cultural priority.  When community is your guiding principle then time and tea and talking all flow out pretty naturally.  I also think that a culture of need is a pretty big driving force, when food and shelter and other basic needs are harder to come by, you have to rely on your community for support  Physical need seems to stop a lot of competition in its tracks and focuses everyone on what’s important.  I wish I knew how to translate a realization of spiritual poverty into the catalyst for community that physical poverty is. 
How amazing would it be if the recognition of our sinfulness and brokenness pushed us to rely on our brothers and sisters more strongly, instead of pushing us to retreat into our stone soul-castles casting out everyone who would dare try and come close enough to see our weakness. 
I pray that God will open my eyes to see the needs of myself and of those around me as opportunities for relationship building…that I would not focus on how to fix the problem but how to love through it and let God do the healing.

Linking up with a community of brokenness at Imperfect Prose

8 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful post, and one that I needed to hear since I get so caught up in the to do list. I loved this, "When community is your guiding principle then time and tea and talking all flow out pretty naturally."

    This is my prayer!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad that the memory of the time you spent in Kenya, still manages to be applicable and relevent for where you are now. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, letting God love through it. Thanks for the book suggestion :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. ah you leave me craving a bit of kenyan time...and living in community we try but fear we fall far short...

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is it right here for me: I wish I could find a way to work that freedom into my life to put relationships before results and people before punctuality.

    Yes, I desire this very same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I join a group of friends every Friday whose awareness of our spritual poverty drive us to gather and share. But you know I never thought of it this way until reading your post. It makes is more crucial somehow (encourages me not to ditch) Very cool...And my parents have visited Kenya many times so I have heard about the fluidity and complete lack of control in "Kenya time"

    ReplyDelete
  7. yes. i lived in the middle east for six months as a missionary, and this fluidity of time and community of neighbors was so prevalent... and i think it's an image of who the trinity is too. i love this post and your heart lauri. xo

    ReplyDelete
  8. When community is your guiding principle then time and tea and talking all flow out pretty naturally.

    I think this could be my current life-statement. I want to be salt and light, things that can only happen if I live in community. :)

    ReplyDelete