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Tales From The TreeHouse

A Word on the Strength of Women and Water

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for sending the Tischendorf piece my way, it’s a fascinating story. I’m having a gas while it’s kicking my butt as I wrestle with this myriad of details and fun facts. He had to have possessed an extraordinary sense of will and purpose, not to mention a keen intellect willing to adapt to new information, to persevere and succeed as he did. But there is one pertinent question to which the answer escapes me – did he carry a bullwhip like Indiana Jones?

I’ve always had a fascination for the history of the Bible, Christianity and religions in general, if not the dogma and doctrine, so it’s right up my alley. Having been raised in an atmosphere of atheism, agnosticism and Holiday Christianity (as in, it’s an experience to go to church at Easter and Christmas but otherwise churches are for sightseers), it’s a wonder I believe in God at all but I always have.

I have no need of dogma, to me that is like throwing a labyrinth down in the open field I cross to meet God every time I remember to take a walk. I felt God long before I even heard of the Bible so I am discomfited by the stern beliefs that accompany most religions, but I understand they inform and comfort people who differ from me and God knows, there are plenty of those. God, like water, always finds a way to make His presence felt. Is God a He? No matter. God is God and is alive and well in my life, so bully for us.

Speaking of water, this morning we woke to none of it. This means digging up pipes and possibly breaking up freshly paved walkways so no one is dancing a jig today. Hopefully it’s just a loose joint though, as hot as they get the water in the bira sometimes (basically a boiler under which a fire is built twice a day to heat the water) fears abound that pipes will have melted and joints eroded. This is no small matter when you are 900 kilometers over terrible roads from the nearest hardware store which also explains why a chance was taken on plastic rather than copper pipes – plastic was at hand. But isn’t it thought provoking, how one little leak can drain a 500 liter tank overnight? Maybe God is onto something.

There’s a new worker weeding the pineapple patch. She has a broad strong face and firm demeanor. I rather like her so far. She is married to one of the guards, the one they call a ‘gumbo’, as in he is not too bright and a bit of a cripple to boot. But I guess he can stay awake all night? In any case, he has a steady job and a nice wife, so he’s not doing too badly. I’m glad for him, as he seems a nice fellow, though admittedly I was surprised when I met her. She was younger and more attractive than I had expected for a middle aged gumbo, so there’s a bright spotlight on my built in assumptions and prejudices…

It made me think, as I often do, of the lot of women in third world countries, especially those in rural areas. Did this woman have any choice in marrying the gumbo? Women here have precious few choices, work hard every day of their lives, and are more often than not afforded status barely above livestock, if that. Yet there is a pride in their posture, and a strength in their eyes and smile that often blows me away. Stories abound of women ruling the roost as the men posture and bluster round the village.

So I wonder, how does that work? Society places them firmly under the thumb of men and yet, they make their mark. I guess strength, like water, will find a way.

Best regards,


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