Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already." — Ernest Hemingway

I have just finished rereading Ernest Hemingway’s last novel (published posthumously) “True At First Light,” and it felt so very different from the first time I read it back Arkansas.  It’s about his living here in Tanzania with his wife and working with the local tribes to kill the dangerous animals killing their livestock and the occasional human.  His wife wants to hunt, too, but just for trophies, something the husband doesn’t do.  The tribespeople all speak Swahili and the book offers no translation, but with this read, I didn’t need one—I knew every word.  His depiction of the land and of the people is better than one I would write, but they would be exactly the same.  He is in love with the people and doesn’t want to leave.  The last time Karen and I traveled back to the U.S.A. our biggest fear was that we would not get back to Africa.  As much as things have changed here in the years since Hemingway was here, so much as stayed the same.  All the things that he held so dear are the same things that hold us here as well.  The people’s kindness and gentleness, their acceptance of his strange ways (and ours), and their knowledge that he was there to help and therefore a good man is all still here.  We experience it every day.  Lions are still hunted in the Serengeti but with cameras these days, and, for me, the results are just as thrilling.  Hemingway captured the spirit of the people in a way that only one who has lived with them in their villages could ever come to know.  He wrote, “It is a very good thing to say that a man has kept a child’s heart, a child’s honesty, and a child’s freshness and nobility.”  We hope that we, too, keep those things always in our hearts.  Christ told us we must become as children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I think that here, we have learned exactly what He meant.

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