07 January 2008

a symbol is just a symbol

I went to a church yesterday that had all (or nearly all) the world flags hung around the top of the back of the hall. I shall not attempt to defend the percentage of the actual service that I spent craning my head around to look for flags of countries in which I have lived. The percentage was large. (The problem was that they put the flags on three different length poles, so I could only see about 1/3 of them.)

The only one I could see from my seat was Kenya. Which was fine, because then while the preacher was doing the requisite New Year’s “we must be doing something right and God must love us because look how many people we’ve stolen away from other churches in the past year” speech to which I didn’t particularly feel a need to listen, I could think about Kenya and how I don’t know Kenya very well but it’s always been something of a sanctuary for me and how horrifying it is to read about what has been going on there in the last week. (If you don’t know: read newspapers, people, seriously. Even the cable guy saw my map of Africa and said, “So, explain to me exactly what is going on in Kenya.”)

Midway through the service, I found the Ugandan flag way over on the end, and that made me smile.

After the service ended, I walked slowly around the back of the sanctuary, looking up at familiar and unfamiliar flags. I was worried for a moment that I might not recognize Tanzania and Sudan (South Sudan has a different flag, which often flies alone or in combination with the Sudanese flag in South Sudan, so I wasn’t sure I would recognize the Sudanese flag alone). But I found both of them.

The Rwandese flag was outdated. Six or seven years ago, Rwanda adopted a new flag: horizontal stripes of spring green, yellow, and a wider blue stripe with a yellow sun. The one hanging in this church was the old vertical stripes of red, yellow, and darker green with a black R in the center. I suppose it should be expected (I’m sure the flag company doesn’t send out updates every few years), but I was disappointed not to see the real Rwandese flag, which I think is one of the prettiest.

The Liberian flag was hanging directly over the center aisle. I walked out under it. I wanted to reach up and touch it, but, like all the others, it was too high, and I felt a little blossom of sadness and nostalgia. So many things are out of my reach right now.

1 comment:

Monday's Child said...

Hey :) I'm back from my holidays and just got through reading through all your posts I had missed... I enjoyed them (as usual)... good luck with new life... and don´t worry about the two selves thing... it'll work out in the end I'm sure (hahahahaha or you'll go mad but then get used to mad so you'll THINK it's all worked out :)