catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 20 :: 2009.10.16 — 2009.10.29


Things I carry with me

He who wants to bring about change has first of all to learn to be changed by those whom he wants to help.
Henri Nouwen

I carry with me the soulful melodies from the graffitied train.

I carry a limited and growing understanding of the complicated layers of urban poverty.

I carry a beat up Christian toolbox, worn out that my preconceived solutions do not mop up this mess.

I carry inherited privileges; some of which I am blind to, others I try to give up, most I want to extend to all.

I carry with me an American passport with four years of visas for volunteering in South Africa.

I carry the tension of straddling two countries; each one a piece of who I am, but together creating a home.

I carry old photographs from my childhood to remind me where I come from.

I carry my camera to help me capture and process this journey of life.

I carry the stories of tragedy and hope from my twenty-six brothers; being part of a place where the cares and needs of both collide and the diverse stories of our lives intertwine.

I carry the questions that come from integrating art and social work and ministry.

I carry a pile of journals where my inner life tumbles out onto a blank page.

Here are some pieces I have scribbled along the way:

Sometimes a significant part of faith is found in mystery instead of understanding.  I have come to find comfort in the unknown, rest in obscurity.  I am content to live with questions.

God’s Kingdom is upside down and often the opposite of what I assume.  Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees it.

Hope makes radical demands of us.  It requires that we carve out a new way of living that changes everything.

I like to live life so full to the brim that it spills over the edges.  I enjoy coloring outside of the lines in order to grow.

I have taken 35,000 photographs in the last six months.

Being a photographer is about becoming conscious.

Giving is more contagious than hoarding.  The enjoyment of something is so much greater when it is shared.

Living simply teaches me to be liberated from things and to enjoy loyalty to God.  The less I have, the more clearly I can see my contentment.

In Cape Town you cannot escape paradox; I don’t think I want to.

We are meant to go through pain and not around it.  My attempt to relieve pain prevents me from discovering my desire for God in all its fullness.

I am learning to give space to let others be different from me.  I am learning to give space to allow others to change.

Allowing people to be who they are doesn’t mean that I condone their behavior; instead it speaks of the freedom that God breathes into me and allows me to be who I am in their company.

God’s presence can be more fully known through diversity.

My Beth Uriel brothers are my greatest heroes in life.

I have eaten enough plates of rice to satisfy me for the rest of my life.

Neighborliness means intentionally crossing boundaries.

It is often the people closest to suffering who have the most powerful joy.

I can no longer give a little to the poor without asking why they are poor.

Caring for the poor is easy; it’s knowing the poor that ties you in knots.

I need to continually strive to learn what my responsibility is for structural injustice and collective sin.

I am called to practice resurrection.

My faith is stronger than all the junk that plows through the back door.   My God has power to conquer it all.  Sometimes we are left to dwell in the mess for awhile; maybe to help us realize this.

I am feeling worn out and need some time to unravel.

My daily prayer is to slow down and let go.

I need to create in order to be fully alive.  My art begs for attention; for me to recognize that its existence must be scratched into life.

We need to continually ask why.

We are meant to wake up in the morning, adventurously expectant that today is what we are made for.

Focusing on the moment and not worrying about time is not an irresponsible way to live — in fact it is normal for the majority of the world.

Beauty is an act of resistance.  I admire the creativity of the shack houses where people breathe life into worn out things.

Africa has so much more to offer me than I could ever contribute.

Beth Uriel ( is a home for previously disadvantaged young men in Cape Town, South Africa.  With Christian principles at the core, our family seeks to be light and hope amidst the brokenness of the world.

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