Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Acknowleging the Providence of Almighty God November 27, 2009

Filed under: Faith — Jen @ 5:26 am

“New York, 3 October, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”   (George Washington)


Fall in America November 26, 2009

Filed under: Pictures,Uncategorized — Jen @ 7:13 am


8-ft Inflatable Ghosts: Reverse Culture Shock, Part 2 November 22, 2009

Filed under: Culture — Jen @ 8:37 pm

Supposedly we’re in a recession.  That’s what I’ve been hearing for the past year.  Reading the news in Mozambique, I learned that times were hard in the developed world as the stock market suffered, currencies lost value, and people began losing jobs.  I warned my Mozambican colleagues that it would be harder to find funding for our projects since there was an economic crisis.

I kept hearing about unemployment rising, but my housemate and I discussed how we didn’t actually know anyone who had lost a job.  Then a friend of mine lost his job, and another.  Then my mom’s salary was cut back.  And my friend’s dad’s salary was cut back.  So maybe this economic crisis was more real than I imagined.

I was curious to see it for myself.  I envisioned For Sale signs in shop windows and restaurants out of business as patrons cut back on eating out.  I imagined more people walking or taking public transportation.

The reality is, I see no change.  To be fair, I have not visited every community in America.  I recognize that some places have been hit harder than others.  But in two months I’ve traveled to multiple towns and cities in seven states.  And this is what I see:  Just as much traffic, if not more; full restaurants; bustling retail shops; huge advertising; everyone and their brother on their iPhones.

And this is what constantly goes through my head – in a recession:  Really?  A fancy phone with all those apps?  Specialty cookie shops and chocolate cafes and frozen yoghurt shops?  $12 jars of gourmet jam?  Dog BAKERIES?  Really?  Eight-foot inflatable ghosts in your front yard?  Where exactly is the “cutting back” in all of this?

My pastor preached on grumbling the other week.  He used the passage in Numbers of the Israelites complaining about the manna in the desert (that God provided daily) and wishing they were back in Egypt (enslaved!) eating meat.  God basically said, “Alright, you want meat?  I’ll give you meat.”  Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. Three feet of quail!  But it was not a blessing.  The passage later states that while they were still chowing on their meat, the LORD struck them with a plague.  They wanted meat then they were drowning in meat and it made them sick.

The pastor made a comparison to us in America.  We wanted “blessings” and now we are drowning in them.  Drowning in our $4 lattes and 80,000 iPhone apps and 350 cable channels and 3,000 square foot houses and dozens of boxes of Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentine’s Day decorations.  And they’re making us sick.

I do believe that there are communities that have been hard hit this year:  people who have lost their livelihoods and their homes.  I don’t want to minimize their experiences.  But if I can still be overwhelmed in the cereal aisle at the grocery store or have a conversation about where to eat out or stand in a purchase line at TJ Maxx for fifteen minutes, then I can’t help but ask, “Recession?”