Touching Despair

The internet connection is slow right now, and I can't keep my eyes open any longer, so I will add photos when I wake up in the morning...

Today the room was full of close to thirty people, packed into a tight little circle in the chilly BRD office. I was moved by moments of pure joy and inspiration, and touched the depths of my own hopelessness and despair. What a journey it has been so far...and even if at times it doesn't seem as if we've had much impact, and there's no way to contribute as much as we would like (ie. leaving with the knowledge that we've been able to embrace and transcend all of the pain, trauma, and suffering that exists in this country...hmmmm...that's an easy way to set myself up for disappointment...) I am amazed at how much we have done so far. I think Jesse put it best this evening: in just two days we've covered far more ground and created far deeper connections with our group than our worst fears about where we would be as a group at the end of the 5 days. Still, even with the huge sense of connection and inspiration that we've experienced as a group, my mind and my heart are still tugged by those moments that have been the toughest, and those walls that do not seem to want to come down.

I think what's still most alive for me right now is my despair about how the last part of the day went. Until then, we had spent the majority of the training exploring the human needs that we all share; beyond any words that we could possibly choose, I'm refering to the qualities that enrich and sustain life.

Transcending 10,000 years of domination in 6 hours...

Today we began our 5-day intensive training on peacebuilding and conflict resolution. With 7 participants. With 28 people registered for the training, we were certainly surprised to see so many empty seats. We called the American Council, an organization here that arranges exchange programs with Afghans and Americans, which had told us that they were sending 10 people, and were met with a cheery, "Oh, no, nobody's coming." Do we still wonder why the American reputation continues to plummet in cultures around the world?

My own frustration that we had not even received a phone call or email passed quickly, as all of us reminded ourselves that those who had come were the right people, and the number that was there was perfect just as it was. We had come a long way for this, both in travel and in resolve, and there was certainly no turning back now. We walked into the training room, and dove straight in.

Our Compassionate Nature

For pictures from today, as well as Jesse and Catherine's reflections, click here. And to read this or any full blog entry, click on the title above.

Again, my eyes are heavy as I write this. And tonight my heart is even more full than before; we spent the day with 40 Afghan children--many of whom live on the streets, and some who were deaf--working with art and nonviolence. Honestly, I don't think that I can put into words the hope and inspiration that has filled my being since the beginning of the day. There was such eagerness, so many smiles, and such love in the room with us all, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude for being allowed to take part in such a magical experience...I'm not even sure where to begin, so I will just write out some of the highlights that stick out in my mind...

We "officially" began around 9am, though the four of us (Naghmeh, from Iran, has joined our team as our translator) had already shared a lot by that time. The newness and the intensity of this adventure had built quite a bit, particulary between Catherine and myself, and that energy decided to pop at the breakfast table. Luckily, we took the space to reconnect and renew our commitment to this partnership, and were able to move forward from a place of even more strength than before. By the time the kids started to show up at the hotel that was hosting us, I certainly had a much more solid sense of how we would work together and what we would create than I would have without the ignition of the conflict before.

The humanness of Kabul

For pictures from today, as well as Jesse and Catherine's reflections, click here. And to read this or any full blog entry, click on the title above.View from the BRD windowView from the BRD window

Today was full of new adventures, new faces, and tons of new learning....

Walking down the dirt covered road toward the traffic-laden street ahead, I knew that I was supposed to feel fear. I was about to round the corner and truly enter into this world, from which until that moment I had remained insulated, either sitting in the guest house, whizzing through traffic, or within the walls of the BRD office. Now, we were about to be at the bazaar, where crowds of people would surely be ready to hurt me at the first chance they got, if I followed those media and US State Department reports that I had read. Instead, I had the very real sense that I was not only walking toward this pain and suffering, but I had arrived in the midst of it. Only from this place can we awaken and nurture the connections that can lead to meeting needs in continually more life-serving ways. Thinking we have a "solution" to the "problems" here has only piled more trauma on tired shoulders; only by truly responding to the life that is already here, meeting people exactly where they are--in a field beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, as Rumi said--can we really be sure of contributing here.

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