An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I think today was one of the hotter days that I have been in Uganda...but then this could just be my sense of things because Patrick and I were wandering outside around the Mulago Hospital complex on our way up to the Uganda Cancer Institute which is really the headquarters of all we are doing here.
As we worked our way up the hill - and yes it was work in this heat - we passed through numerous inpatient facilities which I can assure you are unlike any inpatient facility you have ever seen in the western world. Patient's families camp out wherever they can find space and in this instance I noticed a number of men were saying their prayers toward Mecca - of course it rather looked like the canon of St. Andrew which will itself mark my arrival back home and thus was the odd reasoning for these prostrating men making me homesick.
As we passed, I noticed a woman looking at me strangely. Now this is not unusual...but as our paths intersected she looked right at me and said, "As-Salāmu `Alaykum." Now, I knew that somewhere in the dark recesses of my Religion Major trained mind I had the appropriate response...but it was clouded with "Indeed He is Risen" and "Alithos Anesti" and "Voistino Voskrese" which I reckoned would not be what the woman wanted to here. I quickly gave up the quest though - being short on time as we passed and simply said the same to her in return and smiled....though I suspected it wasn't the right answer. Isma would later remind me: "wa `Alaykum As-Salām" Oh well...Patrick laughed as he told me that she assumed I was Muslim because of my beard. It reminded me that the Ugandan Orthodox Church has largely succumbed to the hairless heresy.
As I spent some time with a couple of patients today I remembered reading yesterday that the US Government is ready to spend more than 1 BILLION dollars to insure that no Americans miss out on their television when the big switch to digital happens. A BILLION DOLLARS! Talk about an entitlement culture gone insane...care to even contemplate what a billion dollars could do for cancer care in Uganda? Spending time up in the pathetically underfunded Children's ward of the UCI is something every American should do before redeeming their $40 digital converter coupon. When did luxury become a right in America? And, by the way, if you have ANY form of healthcare in the USA, believe me, it is a luxury compared to what I see here.
In American we expect someone (FEMA, Police, Fire Department, innumerable federal programs etc) to save us of out any trouble we might find ourselves and since we expect perfect performance in the act of provisioning us, if they fail we will sue. Lord have mercy we are spoiled brats...in Uganda here, they know they have no one to save them...except perhaps a random Muzungu who might be passing by and might further be willing to make a day pass by a little easier. Yes, ours is an entitlement culture and theirs is a begger culture. In an odd way, the latter makes more sense to me. But neither is pretty. God forbid that I should ever open my mouth in complaint again.