Mission, Anger, and Sadness

From Harry's blog, posted in full here:

There are two times of the Christian liturgical year known as "Ordinary Time." These are periods that do not fall within one of the major seasons that note momentous events of Jesus' life: Advent, Easter, or Pentecost, for example.

Now nearly three months on here, it's beginning to feel like Ordinary Time. That is a good thing in many ways. I underestimated what it would be like just to settle in to a new and radically different culture. It takes enormous energy and wears you down to have to re-learn how to ride a bus, find a bookstore, buy something in the market, know what you're buying in the market, and on and on. So some ordinary time promises to bring a sense of belonging or at least absence of such struggle.

Yet I sense there's a trap in this. This is no ordinary place. Missioners don't go to ordinary places; we go to places like South Africa, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Uganda, India, Palestine. I think if it becomes ordinary, we have stopped seeing.

It's probably ok for some things to become ordinary: I haven't seen a movie or TV show since November (except BBC World News), have rarely ridden in a car, haven't eaten an enchilada or a steak, don't know what the latest electronic gadget is, don't get much paper mail, have only a vague idea about the campaign.....

But I don't want other things to become ordinary: the calls to prayer, trash in the streets, covered women, not understanding anything anybody is saying, checkpoints, people's sorrow, resistance, Gaza

I've received some feedback on some postings that anger or sadness shows, and concern about this has been expressed. The concern is gratefully received, but how would it be possible not to be angry or sad living in the middle of the kinds of injustices and struggles that are a commonplace? Not gun-totin' anger or depression-type sadness, I hope, but a reaction that says I see this and think it's wrong and want to help to try to find another way.

If there comes a time when you don't hear the anger or sadness, will you let me know? I think it will be time to come home then.


Rob said…
Ugh. Sorry,but I just have to pick at this. "Ordinary" in the pphrase "ordinary time" does not mean "normal, regular, without significance". It means "in order". We, in the RC or whichever church uses the phrase liturgically, are not saying "the third week in 'regular' time", but rather the third week in the order. That's all.
Abu Daoud said…
No problem Rob. Thanks for pointing that out. Not withstanding that oversight I think that the main point of the short article about anger and sadness and the mission field are helpful.

Do you know what ordinary time is called in Latin by any chance? Now I'm curious...
Rob said…
There was no ordinary time in the old calendar (pre-1970), but the new calendar is in Latin as well, of course. I'm tempted to say "ordinario", but that has such bad overtones in Spanish I won't dare. :)

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