August 19, 2016 (Kampala):
It’s Friday: a sort of d-day for our family, the last day we could conceivably go to the embassy to pick up our visas that would allow us all to travel in time for me to be at FSU by Tuesday morning.
Last night, before bed, Amber and I watched the movie God is Not Dead. It was such a cheesy depiction of popular mainstream American Christianity, it was embarrassing to watch. Lots of ‘amens’, ‘God is good…all the times’, Bible veneration, trite answers, and the unswerving belief that if enough people pray, if prayer is fervent enough, you can get your desired outcome. A bitter picture for us now, who are having our hopes dashed to pieces.
After going to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep, so I got up and watched the movie Pelé, about the Brazilian footballer by that name. I had no idea the treat I was in for. It had to be one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever watched and is now close to my favorite of all times. Brazil lost the World Cup of 1950 because they let their spiritual ‘ginga’ die, the ancient, spiritual African art form that birthed both Brazilian soccer and martial art.
But then a boy appears, nicknamed Pelé, born to a poor family in a small town. Everyone soon discovers he has a gift that could revivify his people, his nation. He has the ‘ginga’. Despite doubt and opposition, Pelé gets to play for Brazil, at age 17, in the 1958 World Cup against Sweden and uses his gift not only to score and beat the Swedes but also to inspire his team and his country.
Ah, it was such a beautiful story, beautifully depicted on screen. As the credits were rolling and the lovely soundtrack nearing completion, I was overcome with emotion and wept bitterly for quite a long time. That spirit of life, beauty, love, and freedom the film showed and celebrated is the same spirit I feel welling up inside me. Like Pelé, I want to do great things, not for myself but for my people, the Christian people, the American people, the Mennonite people…the human people. I have a gift – language learning – that I gave to the Ik people. But I have another gift – transdisciplinary perceiving and thinking – that I long to develop so I can give it away as well. It hurts so bad to delay, to suppress the dream, to put a cap on that geyser in my spirit.
After the movie, a voice – my own? – was telling me we might yet make it out of here, and that I should tell Amber this morning: “Pack up.” But now I am afraid of my own delusions, my own folly. I don’t fully trust me anymore. Which, in a cosmotheanthropic sense, means I don’t fully trust God or the world anymore either. So I will keep waiting…ever waiting.