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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Can the puzzle change?

Twice last week I got Spencer and Chloe’s ages wrong, asking them both what they wanted for their upcoming 25th birthdays. Spencer reminded me that he was turning 26 and Chloe reminded me that she is turning 24.  Then I planned family ZOOM call for Spencer’s birthday on Saturday, but Chloe corrected me and told me his birthday is on Sunday.  I couldn’t remember the name of one of my Sr. Supervisors, but could describe which house he lived in.

It was then that I realized I am tired.  My brain is tired. My heart is tired. My body is tired. 

I decided to take three days off as mental health days, and decided that I wouldn’t write a blog today as part of my mental health rest, but then something happened yesterday.

I got up and went in to Chloe’s room where we have a small gym and puzzle table set up – for both for mental and physical health.  I got on the bike for a while then did some stretching, then went to the cupboard to see if there was a puzzle we hadn’t done yet.  I reached up and found a puzzle of The United States of America. I have no idea how it got here, or who bought it and it was still in its original plastic.  As Canadians, I am not sure why we would have bought a puzzle of our US neighbors, but there it was, and so I pulled it out.

I started by flipping all the pieces right-side-up and then separated the edge pieces and used the box to show me where the longitude and latitude numbers came together.  The frame was complete and it was time to start the puzzle. The first piece I randomly picked up was Minneapolis.  I burst in to tears, and can hardly see my computer through tears as I write this.  I paused, prayed and laid the piece where it would soon be surrounded by the rest of the state. 

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue, but saw that my homeland was up at the top so decided to start with Canada.  It was warm, familiar and while Eswatini, Africa is home for me now, I identify proudly as a Canadian.  The pieces quickly went together as I know Canadian geography well, and could place each piece where it belonged.  Then I picked up a piece and saw the word “Matheson” on it. Again, I burst in to tears.  That was my childhood home town of 3,000 people, located 400 miles north of Toronto.  Why was I crying?  What was wrong with me. I paused, prayed for Matheson and continued with the puzzle.

These bursts of tears continued as I found Chicago (where Spencer lives), southern Ontario (where Chloe lives), Georgia (where many friends and co-workers live), New York, Indianapolis and even Chattanooga brought me to tears.  I paused and prayed over each piece.

Why was I crying over a puzzle?  Why am I crying now?  Then I stopped and took the photo that you see below.  The United States of America is in pieces, and I don’t know who is going to put it back together.  Then I had this really weird feeling that if I could just finish the puzzle quickly, it would all be better. I looked for pieces that I knew where would fit, places that I have friends living or that I had visited in my business days or family vacations.  With each piece I paused and prayed and wept.  But as each piece found its place I knew that nothing was going to change by me finishing a puzzle of the United States.  I finished the puzzle, went back to the living room and the news on the television was the same.  Hatred, division, anger and tears. 

From where I stand, it looks to me that the United States are no longer united, and that is both terrifying and devastating to me.  I am a white Canadian woman living on an isolated mountain in the Kingdom of Eswatini where King Mswati III has absolute power, where a Sexual Offense and Domestic Violence law was only (finally) passed in 2019 and up until 2012 there was no Child Protection Act, so child rape wasn't illegal, just frowned upon.  Women still can’t own property here. And in case you feel that the Coronavirus news has become old, exhausting and you want to move on with life, we are still dealing with the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, and an estimated 70% of the population with (active or inactive) the highly infectious and deadly Tuberculosis, which is not talked about in western countries because it mostly eradicated.

I’m tired.  And I know you are too.  But let us not grow weary and give up hope. 

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28

Let us join together in prayer, knowing that the creator of Universe is securely on the throne. Let us listen to one another with patience, intentionality and peace that passes all understanding.  Let us pray for justice and unity to prevail through the darkness, and bring us back in to a new light.

Thank you Spencer and Jane for marching peacefully in the Chicago protests. Thank you Chloe and Asad for making Coronavirus test kits in Canada.  I am so very proud and thankful for you all.

Live from Eswatini …

Janine

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