I haven’t yet left the hotel today. It is now 3:30pm and today I slept in late and I went to the pool for 30 minutes and just allowed myself to eat a cheeseburger even though I am in Kampala.
The day is sunny and in the distance Lake Victoria’s waters are being rippled to and fro by the shifting breezes.
Part of the horror of Uganda is the beauty of Uganda. This is not a a brown, dusty desert. It is home to rich, dark soil and tree covered hills and wildlife galore. A visitor air dropped into my seat now might think she has landed in Hawaii or the Caribbean.
But a mile from here… closer than that actually… slums. And around those slums? Slums. And the on and on they go divided by a few nice buildings and a few luxury neighborhoods. A visitor dropped into the city could no more guess this was a land of beauty than they could fathom the depths of the poverty around them.
It isn’t the contrast between rich and poor that is most staggering – perhaps because so few are rich – it is the contrast in beauty.
My mind goes back to Paul’s words in Romans:
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard that groaning as audibly as I do here. This land aches to be made whole; it yearns to live in its glory.
So do the people who live here.
Like the land they are beautiful and kind and generous and they too yearn to be ultimately redeemed. And they know they will. People here do not suffer from the delusion that this world will meet their needs, that this world will be the source of their joy. In that there is both resignation and freedom. The resignation is the resignation of seemingly endless suffering. The freedom is the lack of captivity to the seduction of thinking that enough stuff, enough progress, enough science will answer all the problems. The freedom is in the recognition that God is the source of all good things and that life is a march towards God.