The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beyond Woundology - Please, Thank You and I'm Sorry

15 January 2009

Today marks 15 months and one day since my accident[1].  The healing has come to the point that people I meet for the first time hardly notice, or if they do, don’t comment on it.  Yet I’m surprised when people who followed our African Adventure, ask how my arm is, and I remember, oh, I was once injured, but now I’m better.

It’s a temptation to tell new people about the accident, to elicit their sympathy, to tell of my miraculous  healing, the witch that cursed me, and the months between, when God was silent.  If I do tell this story, it should be told to give Glory to God, but more often than I would like to admit, I tell it to explains something about the way I am, or who I’ve become, or because I gain some power in telling the story of my hurt.

Today also day marks my sixth at Wellspring United Methodist Church, and if there is one thing I have learned about Wellspringers, it is that they are a resilient lot.  Webster defines resilience: as something that is “capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture” or having the qualities that tend to “recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”  But sometimes this ability to recover gets stuck, or lost in the stories we tell.  It is almost like a person or institution makes a conscience choice not to recover from or adjust easily, but chooses to stay in the painful moment.

Caroline Myss, author and medical intuitive , tells a story about having lunch with a woman when a male colleague stops by.  She introduces him, and together they chat until he discovers they share a common interest.  He invites her friend to a workshop hosted by organization that specializes in their shared interest.  As Ms. Myss tells the story, her friend replies, “I couldn’t possibility attend on that day because I have a support group meeting for (and she describes a terrible event that happened in her childhood and how she never misses that meeting of it victims). 

 “Why did you feel the need to tell him all that?” Ms Myss asks, “he was only asking if you would like to attend the workshop.” She uses that story to illustrate a behavior she calls Woundology.  Woundology is about using the wounds -- the hurts, traumas, or unfortunate events of the past, to manipulate, elicit sympathy, compassion, or to gain a measure of power and/or authority in a situation. 

I sometimes want to ask Wellspringers, “Why did you just tell me that story?”  I want to learn the interesting history of Wellspring, but I hear so many sad stories, or ones with a heavy pause, full of weighted implications.  I keep thinking that if I just listen long enough, at some point I will hear the last of these sad stories, and more of the ones that celebrate our history.  I am still waiting.

 I wonder, is Wellspring paralyzed by its past wounds? Is it longing for a past that never was, hoping for a future that can never be?  Once time, when Jesus was near a place called the Sheep Gate pool, where the NIV says “a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed,” He saw an invalid who had been that way for a long time and asked, "Do you want to get well?"

I have a wonderful chiropractor in Austin, Dr. Rosanne Butera, who has treated me since before I was a pastor.  I’ve been through so much with her, and while we were in Africa, she was treated for breast cancer. There is some regret I feel, for not being there to pastor her through that time of need. Now that we are back and both healed, we can exchange knowing glances of having been to the edge of darkness and returned.  Dr. Butera says I need to make friends with my shoulder.  It was such an intuitive thing to say.  She realized my shoulder had become disconnected from my –I don’t know what to call it—but I wasn’t feeling any love for that which had caused me so much pain.  I don’t know if she was talking about forgiveness, but this feeling I have for my shoulder, has many of the same qualities that unforgiveness.  It seems that when we finally reconnect to that which has caused us so much pain, the hurt stops hurting, and we don’t feel compelled to tell its story again.

Yesterday, I connected with an old friend, one whom I had not seen in many years.  This friend was on the edge of a bad situation and though we had not conflicted directly, there was collateral damage.  It wasn’t that I had left on bad terms, I just left, and the pain of that parting haunted me, kept me awake at night sometimes wondering what part I had played in those wounds and how I could avoid it in the future.  I thought if I could only think through what had happened, understand what I had contributed to it, what I had not, that understanding would be mine; it would lose its power over me.  So far that wasn’t working, and in the words of Dr. Butera, I needed to make friends, so I reached out, and it was great to reconnect, to remember all that was good in that friendship, and to allude, but not rehash those final days and say, I’m so sorry things ended that way, and can we start again?

Someone much wiser than me once said that the key to this life comes in three phrases: Please, Thank you, and I’m sorry.  Please—shows our need of interdependence, that we need something from each other; Thank You—shows our gratitude for that relationship and what it provides; I’m Sorry—reconnects or restores that relationship, when things get broken. 

Jesus asked “Do you want to be made well?” before he healed, because even Jesus couldn’t heal if people didn’t want to be, if they would rather tell their story one more time.  Do you want to be made well?

So my advice to myself is

1)      Stop telling the sad story so often

2)      Start saying I’m sorry more often

3)      Make friends with what wounded you.

Amen (which means So be it!)

[1] I did not provide a link to all the blogs that detail the accident, in the spirit of not telling my sad story again.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Day Red Red

Yikes, it is 2009, now six months since we left Ghana.  Six months and five days and a lifetime to be exact.  Since being back I’ve battled “adopted homesickness” occasionally  using some of the same coping mechanisms I used in Ghana when we were missing Texas.  Food & Music.  Music was easy, there is so much Ghanaian Music on youtube;  preparing authentic Ghanaian food was the challenge, that is until we discovered a store in Austin that carried Palm Oil.  Palm Oil is that thick, red, sticky, pretty-bad-for-your-heart oil that is so tasty, and at the heart of much Ghanaian cooking.  Without it, I could make Groundnut Stew, but with it, I can make almost anything.

Ghanaian Music Videos:   Ofori   Wutah Music  Reggie Zippy  Slow Motion

For good luck, Southerners eat black eyed peas on New Years Day.  Since Suzanne despises their taste, this tradition has always been an interesting challenge for me.  I remember one year when we were we stayed with Suzanne’s grandmother in West Texas.  She slow cooked her black eyed peas with a ham shank, and salted them heavily, serving them with corn bread.  On that New Years Day, we arrived late, almost too late to have them on New Years Day.  Since Suzanne was exhausted, she went straight off to bed, only for me to wake her close to midnight, and stuff three black eyed peas in her mouth.  She was such a good sport.

So today it will be easier, we’re having a fusion dish, Southern Tradition, Ghanaian food.  I’m disguising  the black eyed peas as Red Red, and serving it with rice.  So it will really just be Red, not Red Red, since we have no plantains to fry. 

Black Eyed Peas & Red Palm Oil (Red Red)

Cook the Black Eyed Peas

1 to 1.5 lbs black eye peas, dried.

A large pot of water

One onion, with the skin removed, but scored on both ends with a cross to hold them together.


Cook until peas are soft, adding water if necessary. Keep covered.  When cooked, remove onion and discard. 

Prepare the Palm Oil

                1 to 1.5 cup red palm oil

                Half an onion, sliced in quarter moons

                1 clove garlic, thin sliced

                2 inches of ginger root, cut half lengthways

Combine oil, onion slices, sliced garlic, and ginger in oil and cook over low heat until the onions are dark brown, but not burnt.  This may take 30 minutes.  Don’t use too high heat as it burns the flavor of the palm oil.  Strain to remove onions, garlic and ginger root.  The dark onions/garlic are not used in Red Red, but I keep them in a jar in the fridge to add an interesting flavor to cooking.

Prepare the Tomatoes

                1 12oz can of whole tomatoes

                1 fresh jalapeño

                Half an onion.

Combine and shred in a blender until uniform texture, but not puréed.  After palm oil from above has been strained, add tomato mixture to hot oil and again cook over low heat until the tomatoes release their moisture, and it cooks off and pan no longer sizzles when stired.

Right before Serving – reheat cooked black-eyed peas, and oil/tomato mixture and combine black-eyed peas and oil right before serving.  Ideally, this dish would be served with fried plantains, but today we’ll be serving it as “beans and rice,” a south of the boarder staple.


OK – so it’s a little ironic that we’re serving a Ghanaian dish to our son, Fox, who is back from Ghana for Christmas break, but hey its New Years Day and Fox was a good sport.