Friday, January 13, 2012

Halfway There Reflections


We did some counting and figured out that Christmas Day was the exact
halfway point of our 10-month journey. All along, Ash and I have made
a point to celebrate our “anniversaries” in little ways. They also
have become a kind of checkpoint for us, looking back to try to
identify things we’ve done well, looking forward to set goals for the
time that remains. The ‘halfway’ anniversary has felt particularly
significant, most likely because we’ve been away for so long and our
work will be shifting some.

In reflection, the thing that’s struck me most is how different it
feels being here compared to when we got here and the reality that it
will likely shift that much again from now until May. The
possibilities are both exciting and frightening. But whether you’re
standing in line at the Grocery store, starting a new job or traveling
the world, I think its all about honoring the truth of this moment,
it’s reality. It’s like when Ash and I so often (already) reminisce
about college. I see only moments – pizza on the roof, crosswords in
sexton, a conversation in the library- like a thousand sparks or
flickering candles that together illuminate a room, make the reality
of that time visible again. Things change, people change, and no one-
not even ash- will ever experience this place exactly as I am now. So
for me, in this moment….

Chipole Is-

Chipole is time.
Long days, short weeks, shorter months.
Extra time, free time, wait time.
Time spent in prayer.
Time spent in books.
Times when I’m numbingly bored.
Times when I’m dodging the bat that decided to guard my door.

Chipole is colors- all of them.
Seafoam green, bubblegum pink, red-orange and the limiest of greens.
It’s the plastic buckets that come in all these colors.
and the women (just as colorful) who carry them.
It’s bells and drums and cats and roosters.
It’s a handful of beans and gallons of cooked pumpkin leaves.

Chipole is all over my body.
Sweat dripping down my cheek as I sip my tea,
Sticky arms, sticky hands, sticky face.
Sticky and yellow from all the mangoes.
On my feet, it’s orange.
The dirt I scrub off, night after night.

Chipole is getting lost.
Lost in the woods.
Lost in my thoughts.
Chipole is feeling lost.
And Chipole is my lost room-key-
Every single day.

Chipole is uniforms, raggedy.
Habits, pristine.
Meal-times, meal-prayers, Swahili prayers,
Swahili flashcards, Swahili attempts.
And always, then, it is laughter.

Chipole is wondering.
About the faces on my walls, and the ones out my window.
What are they doing? what would they say,
If we could communicate?


  1. What a beautiful reflection, Maggie! It has been great to see you and all the BWSC women blossom as you take on your new lives in your service missions. God is doing a great work in you, and you are doing a great work in Chipole!
    Blessings to you on this journey you have embraced so whole-heartedly.
    S. Julianne Gilbert

  2. Maggie, I just love this blog. S. Renee Domeier told me she was so impressed with your poem, and so am I! Do you recall asking me about writing an article? I remember getting back to you about that, but are your remembering? I think you are almost ready for it! What do you think?

  3. Maggie, I read your blog. Thank you for taking your time and go experience our hard life at Chipole. Thank you for living and for feeling it. Now you know what we go through. Here in America life is taken for granted because you never go without, which causes sometimes to forget that there people who are greatly struggling. I pray that the difficulties of life you are experiencing during your time with us at St. Agnes, will turn into blessing in your future life. Your presence at our convent and our students is a blessing. I hope you experience this too.
    Thank you for your time with us. Talk to you later.
    Sr. Redempta