“I felt my skin turn black…”

Son P., who happened to receive a book by Henri Nouwen from us for Christmas, alerted me to a 3-part radio documentary “Genuis Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henry Nouwen,” coming up on CBC Ideas. I listened to Part I on Wednesday and commend it to you. (Parts II and III follow on Jan. 16 and 23.)

There’s a line in the first part of the documentary I can’t forget. The documentary speaks of how Nouwen came from his native Netherlands to study in the U.S. and how while there was drawn into and became supportive of the civil rights movement. On March 21, 1965 he attended a rally in Montgomery, Alabama, where he heard Martin Luther King speak. Nouwen later wrote, “I felt my skin turn black…” Continue reading

Search engine terms

Once you’ve written a blog for a while, you get a certain amount of traffic via search engine terms. My WordPress stats page shows me the terms whereby some people land on one of my posts. Most of the time these are phrases or names like “Checkpoint Charlie soldier” or “Dora Dueck writer” or “Mennonites in Bolivia” or “David Ewert” or “Edmund Janzen.” ¬†Occasionally, however, they have me scratching my head at the thought processes of search engines (and that brought you here?) or they amuse me. It’s a slow day in my corner of the blogosphere, so I thought I’d share some of the latter (I’m not making these up!), and have a little fun with them. The search engine term appears in bold; my response is in italics.

pens in a mug
it’s the writer’s cider and really quite delicious once you develop a taste for it, though I recommend a few swirls in a powerful blender first

emcee a mennonite funeral free for all
ah, Freiwilliges, you mean, that time after the Zwieback and cheese and Platz and coffee at the funeral lunch, at Mennonite funerals at least, when people are freely- invited to the mic to share their unrehearsed, spontaneous memories of the deceased…. These can be wonderful times, but tricky too, and I understand where a novice emcee might be nervous and why this might raise fears of a wild free for all… I’ve heard things said in Freiwilliges (free willies, we call them in English) about the departed that will probably not comfort the family, and speeches that go on and on, not about the deceased, but about the speaker and what they did with and for the deceased, how they visited, sang, blessed… oh please, just sit down already

ads with figures of speech
some ads are so brilliantly written, they’re almost literature

hitchens is a fool
yes, I believe I’ve heard that before — but does he exist?

why do mennonite boys wear overalls?
it’s their version of an apron

stories about borrowing things
that, in a manner of speaking — loosely speaking, that is — is what this blog is all about

short stories about bones
not literally, though, not here, but let me re-direct you to Ezekiel (37): “in the midst of the valley which was full of bones…very dry… there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone…”

is it true Mennonites don’t use anything
for what?

how does the walrus obtain their energy
oh, oh, someone’s doing a science project, and let me guess, it’s due tomorrow… brings back memories… no Google in the days when our kids were doing their projects… ¬†they’d pick their topics and we’d head off to the library to look for books, only to discover that someone else with the same topic had gotten there first and taken them all… no, I can’t say I miss the trauma of those parent-child outings… as for the walrus? no idea

married a mennonite
me too

borrowing of long bones
long, short, fat, thin, nearly invisible — here at the charnel house we borrow them all

flower bed overhead
what one earthworm might say to another

book tunnels
tunnel books, I think that should be (see an example, here, by Ruth Maendel), but then again, I know what you mean… book tunnels, those massive tomes that start so good they get you in and then you’re in too far to quit and you can’t turn around but there’s other work to be done such as laundry and the novel you’ve started writing (not reading) and 300 pages to go and no light to be seen at the end of it … oh dear, looks like I’ll be reading through the night again…