Saturday, May 11, 2013

It just keeps moving

First Communion services were held today at our Sweifeih Church for 18 young people. They were adorable and handsome. The girls were elegant white dresses while the boys dressed in stately black suits. They were very excited to be more fully incorporated into the church. I was happy to meet their parents - some of whom I met for the first time.

It seemed like it was the place to be in Amman. Everyone was there and the church was overflowing with proud visitors. The liturgy had its share of surprises as it is a challenge to get 18 young people to do many things in unison, but they pulled it off nicely. Many thanks to Sana and Clara for their help in getting things done smoothly.

The reception was well planned. I don't know where all the food came from but it mysteriously appears. The cake was extraordinary and the reception hall was full. I was hoping to meet all the parents and grandparents, but my job turned out to pose as George Clooney for the paparazzi or to bless the heads of many parishioners.

I rushed home late to collect my guest who was arriving from Maine. Fr. Michael went to pick him up at the airport, but he was not there. We waited and waited until I went upstairs to my office and behold - there was John. He made it in a little early and was settling in just fine.

We've had a lot of guests lately. Janet visited before Easter and the Dozan concerts. Then Fr. Paul came for two week for his Easter vacation. At the same time, friends from St. Paul in Cambridge arrived for their pre-tour of Amman before the went to Jerusalem and the West Bank. I caught up with them at the end as well. Then the tour group from St. Paul arrived the same time Soohwan did. John arrived today and then Fr. Al returns on Friday. It has been a whirlwind.

I decided that rather than planning out their details, I would try to integrate them into a celebration. It was a great success. We ate and drank at Crumz the other night in a happy hour setting. The sun was setting but the evening sky remained warm with a very forgiving breeze. It was a terrific way of letting my friends come to meet each other. One friend said to me about my friends that they were very nice and I just said, "That is why they are my friends."

Yesterday as I was scheduled to go to our Dozan Day, I just told my guests they were coming with me. I find that it is enriching for them to actually see my life in Jordan and they are pleased with what they see. In years past, I would have segregated them, but now I ask myself, "why would I do that?" It works out better this way.

The Dozan Day was filled with singing and dancing in the hills just past Marj Al Harmmam, Field of the Pigeons, where we ate lots of grilled kebabs and sweet desserts. My chocolate buttercream frosting melted in the hot sun giving me new appreciation for Arabic sweets. We were all given individually framed photos of our dancing with a professionally recorded DVD of our performance. Shireen, the conductor, was very sweet in writing a special statement for each performer and signing it for us.

Dozan singers are special people. They are the new Jordan and I like what I experience. They offer our world a unique way of celebrating contemporary life. They are very gracious.

I know that I am settling in because many Jordanians are asking me for directions, for travel tips, or for places to bring guests to the country. Though it is perplexing, it generates interesting conversations.

One thing I still have to discover is how to grown desert plants. I've been given a few houseplants that deteriorate quickly though there are signs that they are coming back. I suspect the soil is poor and needs to be mixed with peat moss and other products because the roots choke in the hard, caked soil. I plan to get some soil this week and continue my experiment.

On the road Thursday and Friday, I saw pockets of people who have gathered to represent their causes. Since I can't yet read the signs, I'm not sure of their positions, but they don't exceed more than twenty people. I sense some are disgruntled over wages and governmental positions and it is good that their voices are heard.

I'm tired from all the recent activities. On Easter Monday, I went to mass and thought that I would have an easy time afterwards. At the close, there was a man who wanted to obtain money from me and plead his cause. The next day, a similar thing happened. All I want to do is pray, but sometimes someone comes and wants something and from their perspective, it has to be done right away. They hover and impose their will and they later apologize for their aggressive behavior.

One morning, a man asked for absolution - for the 22nd time - and I reminded him there is no absolution without confession. He reckoned that since he came in at 8:29 I would not have time to hear his confession before the 8:30 mass. The next day another man comes in at 8:29 and asks to go to confession. When they want something, their entire energies are driven to get what they want in the present moment. And of course, when he is done there is a line of others who want and need something.

This morning, I really wanted to sit outdoors for a few minutes and breathe in the cool, fresh breeze that was passing by. The moment I sat down, two people came running up to the gated veranda asking a bunch of questions. It reminded me of the scene in Jesus Christ Superstar when all he wants to do is sit down and drink a cup of water, but the people kept coming to him. They pressed on and on him.

After engaging them in conversation because I could not answer their questions, I simply stood up and went back to my room for some quiet.

It is time for bed now.


  1. I gave a ride home from Mass yesterday to two of my students and their friend- who turns out to be from Amman. It was nice to know a little bit about her home town, from hearing about the ordinary things. So, thank you for including your readers, too, in the daily round...

    May there be pockets of peace...

    1. Ah, the season of Pentecost when peace can reign. I'm glad you met an Ammanian. I'm sure she still has great affection for her city.

    2. She does, and is excited to be going home for the summer break in a few days!

    3. May she find Amman a little bit green and not too dusty. We just had a burst of a shower yesterday. I hope it waters these desert flowers and restores their greenness.