In 2006 Andrew traveled with a crew of six independent filmmakers to shoot the film E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant. The following is an excerpt and a behind the scene look of Andrew’s experience on set.
Other excerpts: Lydia and Nathan | Julie | Malindi | Lodwar | Turkana Tribes | I
What are the edges of our lives and what is the space? How do we present ourselves to those hands that shape? Outside a small shop near the Tulia Guesthouse in Nairobi I drank a Coke from a glass bottle for sixteen Kenyan shillings, the equivalent of thirty Canadian cents. Thinking back on our time in Lodwar and Kisa, considering my shape and the shape of my dreams and whether those dreams are the same shape as God’s perception of my life. I have come to no solid conclusion yet.
There is, however, something I’m aware of, I reach for it like a child stretches his tongue on a dare for the back of his throat. For a brief moment able to touch at and feel the soft flesh, reeling and relieved to leave things be. There’s a part of God that isn’t nice and isn’t tame and, were I not aware of his tenderness or loving heart, a part that would make me feel afraid.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place.
Throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or you brought forth the earth and world,
From everlasting to everlasting
You are God.
You turn men back to dust saying
“Return to dust, O sons of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like a day
That has just gone by,
Or like a watch in the night.
You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
They are like the new grass of morning –
Though in the morning it springs up new,
By evening it is dry and withered.
We are consumed by your anger
And terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
Our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
We finish our years with a moan.
The length of our days is seventy years –
Or eighty if we have the strength;
Yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
For quickly they pass, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Relent, O Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
For as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
Your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
Establish the work of our hands for us –
Yes, establish the work of our hands
Who but Moses, wanderer of deserts, leader of the grumbling multitude could write such a prayer?
There seems an aspect of God’s nature that seems as barren and harsh as Lodwar. But why shouldn’t it be that way? The earth with its deserts, glaciers, dry lands is the Lords and the fullness thereof.
For some reason it is this aspect of God I try to keep at bay, deeply and quietly, so subtle I rarely catch myself, a pattern of behaviour so well practiced: me afraid to let things be things, to allow things and persons to be what they are, even God. Afraid to let him so batter and afflict me in order to make me malleable and able to change.
Who am I fooling? Who can keep God at bay? Like a lion tamer I sometimes approach the Lion of Judah with feeble whip in hand and enter his cage, manipulate him, make him jump through hoops of fire, with a fear buried deep down that I could become prey.
In Kakamega, before I knew it was the Plasmodium Falciparum strain of Malaria at work in my system, I had a ‘seize the victory’ moment like the Hebrew King David of old. My body was in pain. My digestive tract and gut felt rock hard and uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to do with myself so I prayed. Should I go throw up, Lord? And soon after a picture came to my mind: a cheetah, running swiftly, then an image of an arrow pointing to the bathroom. Go quickly to the toilet. A Should-I-go-attack-the-Philistines-Yes-you-will-be-victorious moment in the present day. I ran to the toilet, forced myself to throw up, a violent messy battle, one that changed my miserable state. I was victorious. Truly I am the Lord’s anointed.
Though it is a fearful thing, sometimes you have to take the dare, pray, put your finger to the back of your throat, feel that soft flesh and not waver. The obstacle will move if you move yourself.
Does the clay say to the Potter, ‘what have you made?’
I long to be finished, useful, beautiful. A vessel admired, noted for its worth. But who am I to say to the Potter, ‘shape me so.’ I cannot resolve the fact of my dreams, dreams that if unrealized promise to leave me unfulfilled. Dreams I cannot help but think are part of the Potter’s very design.
And still I yearn to trust those hands that belong to a person I believe is so worthy of trust and love. What if those hands merely meant for me to be shaped into a vessel with space enough to be filled, only to be emptied so others can receive, filled and poured out, even with living water?
A corridor, or a riverbed, maybe a simple funnel. In Lodwar, in Africa, or somewhere else.
© 2010 andrew kooman
Remembering Names: Reflections from Kenya :: Download the entire Ebook HERE
E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant :: $20.00