My son had the chance to help this potter make a clay turtle. He has been taking Bahasa Indonesia lessons at school, but still can’t speak the language very well. The potter spoke no English, or at least did not let on that she knew.
The language that they spoke to one another was one of gestures, smiles, and touching. She showed Ben how to mold the clay, how to turn the wheel, and she would take his hand and move it where it needed to be. She would smile and let him try. He would smile back and try.
The most poignant lesson I have learned while living internationally has been that communication does not have to be spoken. Some of the best relationships I have here in Indonesia are the ones where we both struggle to speak, and have to depend on the kindness of the other person to get us through the situation.
I pray that I do not forget this lesson.
This is Dini. She and I met yesterday at the Jonooge Primary School near Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. I spoke to her in my incredibly bad Bahasa Indonesia, and she stared at me. I spoke to her in my language, English, and she stared at me. I smiled and she stared at me. I walked away…and she followed me. We became friends yesterday. I don’t know what she thought I was, but she, to me, was innocence and beauty and everything worth protecting in the world.
This is Dini. My little friend.
One of the dangers of writing your own signs is that you might think that you’ve written something one way, while someone else may read it differently. When I placed the words in Google Translate, exactly as they are phrased here – anjing di larang be rak di sini – it came back with, ‘Shelves prohibited here’, with the message, ‘Did you mean Anjing dilarang berak di sini? This means that ‘dogs are prohibited from pooping here.’ That’s a pretty big difference. One way, extra storage is outlawed. The other way? No pooping.
I’m pretty sure that the writer of this sign is trying to say that he doesn’t want dogs to poop down this alley, but maybe he has a thing against shelving.
I’m not sure how I missed this photo, but back in October I had the privilege of taking forty students to Vancouver to the Writer’s Festival. While there, I witnessed an amazing poet: Zaccheus Jackson. He was born an addict, a product of Canada’s foster child program, a former addict and convict and now a voice for taking life for what it is: amazing. Not beautiful all the time. Not painless.
His poems were brilliant if not manic and restless. There was a graceful, elegant quality to his words, even as he spits them out, rapid-fire. He spoke truths of a life that none of my students had witnessed before. One of his poems pointed to the grace of an eagle, only to be surprised by the graceful eagle’s mistake of trying to take on more than it should have. The poem is here, but a short word of warning: it has some inappropriate language.
What he speaks of is wings. What he lives is a life that has been offered grace, for which he is grateful.
… is pretty skinny. I was thinking, as I processed this photo, of all of the phrases that we use that involves “rail”. Here’s a few of my favorites:
1. “As skinny as a rail.” I once knew a guy who was 6’5″ and about 155 pounds. I watched him swing a bowling ball into the side of his knee and nearly incapacitate himself. He was skinny. We used to joke that if he ever broke a limb, we could just hold him up to the light and check on it.
2. “It drives like it’s on rails.” I’ll be honest. I remember this from the movie “Pretty Woman”. Julia Roberts is an unlikely hooker who meets Richard Gere, who can’t drive his Lotus at all. Apparently he was never taught to drive standard. Sad. Anyway, she gets in and shows him how to drive his car (no pun intended). I need to make sure that I include that I watched this movie on DVD and very much against my will. I think my wife made me watch it. I will never get those two hours back.
3. “Ride him out on a rail.” I don’t know what this means, but it seems to mean sending someone away against their will. Sounds like a phrase I should use more often.
Do you have any favorites?