Our Tribal Elders Part 1 – Djibouti Jones

Readers, I’m sending you to Djibouti Jones today where she is beginning a collaborative project with a childhood friend of mine, Paul Seaman, an author and writer who has done a tremendous amount of thinking and writing on third culture kids. Enjoy and be sure to join the conversation!

Building Bridges GW Paul Seaman quote

“A culture doesn’t happen by accident. Neither does it simply evolve through inevitable phases and developments.

The beliefs and emotional tone of a culture are based on countless discoveries and the meanings assigned to the structures created. As global nomads, our culture is largely invisible. It has no geographic boundaries and no designated symbols. We resort to surveys and anecdotes, cautiously giving labels to the patterns we see. What we name becomes an identity, but one that is never quite complete because the labels are porous and the patterns keep shifting. A roving heart and ambiguity are commonly part of the global nomad legacy; but they are also aspects of a way of life many of us have chosen—with all its costs and merits. Living in limbo means we might often feel anchorless, but it also suggests that we are good sailors and bridge builders.

Instead of pushing boundaries, we pull on them—curious about what they are made of, what function they are supposed to serve.”

We find commonalities where others may see none. We ourselves can be bridges across the limbo, not to explain it away, but to provide someplace solid from which to explore it.

Read the rest of Our Tribal Elders here: http://www.djiboutijones.com/20…/…/our-tribal-elders-part-1/

*Paul Asbury Seaman as published in Our Tribal Elders Part 1 on Djibouti Jones.

“Don’t Jostle the Wound!”

“So” I said. “I’m planning to come home on public transportation on Friday. That will be fine, won’t it?”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. I was speaking with Vanessa from the surgeon’s office. She was giving me instructions for the minor out-patient surgery I was having – specifically an incision to remove tissue from my right thigh.

She responded carefully. “I think it would be better to have someone pick you up. You don’t want anyone to jostle the wound.” 

Okay then. I was underestimating this surgery; minimizing the impact perhaps.

Since that conversation I’ve used the phrase several times; in telling my family that my husband would pick me up, in talking to my sister-in-law, in relaying the conversation to a friend.

The phrase has made its home – because these are wise words.

“Don’t jostle the wound!” Fresh wounds need care and rest, they need us to pay attention, listen to instructions, care for them as prescribed. Fresh wounds of the body and the heart and soul.

How often when my heart feels wounded have I longed to cry “Please! Don’t jostle my wound!” Or how often have I wanted others to cry out for me “Don’t jostle her wound – care for her, love her, nourish her.”

And the wound will heal but often we need that advice, the warning, the encouragement not to jostle the wound. For no matter how we play at being fine, there are times when we are the walking wounded. We are fragile and finite, holding hearts and souls easily wounded, easily bruised.

And so sometimes we need others to say “Don’t jostle the wound! Make sure you don’t jostle the wound!” 

Today is the first day I’ve stepped out of the house without a bandage on my wound. My hand goes protectively toward my thigh as I wait for the bus, continues to guard it as I step onto the subway. I’m now able to care for myself – I don’t need protection. But I still don’t want anyone to jostle the wound.

A Heart of Wisdom

A Psalm comes to mind as I pass the Boston Common on my normal route to work. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.

The city is in its normal chaotic Monday morning state with walkers and bikers bleary eyed and impatient. Disheveled and smelly homeless are side by side with Suits and Designer bags, because this is the city and its streets and potholes are no respecter of persons.

And I fear I don’t know what the verse really means. What is a ‘heart of wisdom’? What does it look like? How do I respond with a heart of wisdom? How do I live as one with a heart of wisdom?

Mondays are not a good time for this type of contemplation. I have that weekend hangover that longs for today to be Saturday and the beginning of days off instead of Monday and the ending. Today I would like to be Maggie Smith from Downton Abbey with her famous “What is a Week-End?” so immune is she to the middle class struggle.

But if not Monday, when? If I want to figure out this ‘heart of wisdom’ and I want to live it. I know that putting it off for another day is not wise.

And I may not know what it is, but I surely know what it’s not! A heart of wisdom is not rushed, nor is it apathetic. A heart of wisdom is not proud or narcissistic. A heart of wisdom does not speak before it thinks; does not jump to conclusions; does not boast; does not treat others poorly.

I’ve already fallen in three of these areas and it’s not yet 7:30 in the morning. Is there any hope? Hope is in the verse itself, for as I look at the brevity of life, I am sobered. A childhood friend from New Zealand lost her 19-year-old son to a tragic accident this weekend; cancer seems to be quickly claiming the bodies of people I know and care about; I have people dear to me who would give anything to be able to get up and go to a job. And a heart of wisdom would look through all this to see the big picture, would look through the chaos and pain and see the eternal, live according to the eternal.

“Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.” I repeat the verse silently in the elevator to the 4th floor. This today is my prayer.

Stop – Think – Comment

My morning walk from subway to office is five blocks. It’s just long enough for me to be lost in my own thoughts before entering into my institutional setting. Today I took a side street and passed a large truck parked opposite a sporting goods store. There were two people unloading brown boxes while another was going over inventory.

I passed them without notice when the wording on one of the boxes caught my eye. The words in black lettering were bold and commanding.

Stop – Think – Lift

It was a reminder to those moving the boxes to think about body mechanics, properly using their bodies to not put a strain on their backs.

But I took a picture because with one change of the word you could use this in many areas.

Stop – Think – Decide; Stop – Think – Talk; Stop – Think – Discipline – In all of these we need a reminder to think before we act.

But the one I settled on was Stop – Think – Comment. So many of us are guilty of losing control of our brains when commenting, particularly on controversial subjects. We use anonymity to our benefit and, knowing the likelihood that we will be identified is slim, let all manner of speech spew forth.

How do we help each other in this area? Help each other make thoughtful comments that add to the conversation? I’m asking you because I am particularly impressed at those who comment on Communicating Across Boundaries. Whether agreeing or disagreeing, you all add to the conversation.

Is it because I’m not controversial enough or because in a smaller setting we feel like we know each other – we’ll see each other again tomorrow as we weigh in on culture, immigration, communication and faith?

As someone who has had too many times where my brain has disconnected from my words the paraphrased command on the box hits me where it needs to. I don’t want to be so self obsessed that I care nothing for others who are in conversation; whether I ever meet them or not is immaterial.

The Bible has some strong words for the tongue – and I’ve no doubt that these words from the book of James apply directly to comments on the internet.

“With the tongue keyboard we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth keyboard comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James goes on to speak of wisdom – an apt ending to this chapter and a good ending for this post. There is false wisdom, assumed through letting all know who I am and what I stand for, a ‘selfish ambition’ is described by the author. And true wisdom – wisdom from Heaven; wisdom represented through peace and consideration, mercy and sincerity.

Stop – Think – Comment strikes me as the beginning of wisdom when it comes to online opinion and communication. What do you think?

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”