Red Egg Jewelry

Red Egg prayer beads and jewelry

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Red Egg is a center for art that deepens our connection with wisdom traditions around the world. Read more


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The steeple of Saint HilaireMore left of Combray than I had imagined five years ago in winter when the town of Illiers had seemed so tawdry in comparison with what emerged from the taste of a few crumbs of madeleine in a spoonful of tea.

A novel doesn't translate what's real into fiction.

And the most important books must teach us how to read them.

An object's not inert. It's not even an object.

And everything that's real is a relationship—not a phenomenon.

Aunt Leonie's house.

The bell on the gate that only Swann would ring.

The clapper that would rattle when anyone else would enter.

The siphon coffee system Uncle Adolphe loved to use.

The hawthorns along Swann's way.

 "The autobiographer relates what he has lived through; the novelist lives in order to relate."

                                                                         — Jean-Yves Tadié, Marcel Proust: A Life.


M. Vinteuil's along the Guermantes' way.

À la recherche du temps perdu.


Chartres (once more)

We've been to Chartres before.

But in that winter month five years ago the labyrinth wasn't open.

And this time it was.

At first, I was a little irritated. Some people were breezing across the labyrinth inattentively—in a hurry to get somewhere else and seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were jostling right through others' prayer.

But it was as if each mindful step was clarifying itself nonetheless.

And soon those of us who were walking

...were walking the labyrinth together.

In a labyrinth sometimes you seem to be moving in the opposite direction from another—and then the next moment you're face-to-face. When you seem furthest from the center, at the next turn you might find yourself entering it.

Nor in that winter five years ago did the cathedral put on a cosmic light-show.






It feels like we're back on our long pilgrimage again.

With places and friends so beautiful and dear that it always feels too unbearably soon to leave them.

"Keep your pilgrim-self alive," we reminded ourselves five years ago when we were heading homeward.

And we're reminding ourselves of that wisdom once again.



In Kiswahili, you say urafiki.

Yolanta, Tutu, Katulica, Edith.

The rambunctious friends from Zambia stayed in Dave and Ronah's apartment.

Yolanta, Ronah, Tutu.

Ronah and Katulica

Miss K.

While Dave's (and our) friend Christian...

...hosted the California contingent in his beautiful Nairobi home.

Allison, Dave, Amy.

Rod.Karen.Amy and Miss K.Of course, it's not like the two groups of travelers stayed apart for very long.

Allison knew she'd be surrounded by new friends in Kenya, but just to hedge her bet, she brought a few old pals along with her anyway.

Here's another one.

So by the time of the wedding, everything was already rocking-and-rolling.



Dave and Tom.


Tom, Rod, Gilbert, Dave, Monte, Christian, Chris.

This one's a caption contest.

Zachs, Edith, Ronah, Yolanta.

Ronah, Dave, Amy, Allison.

Sister Agnes.The bravest thing I've ever done in my life was to get on the dancefloor later that night with these Kenyan and Zambian dancers.

Don't ask.

No, I didn't hold my own.

Faith and Masaa.

Miss K, Allison, Monte, Tutu.That's a Tusker in Monte's hand.

Now and then—like when watching futbol and eating nyama choma—Masaa and I have had a few of those with Monte, too.

Earlier at the reception there had been a sudden downpour. And now on the way to the dancefloor, our bus slid off the black cotton road into a ditch.

Karen, Yolanta, Tom, Allison, Amy.For some that just meant that the dancing began a little earlier.

And anyway here's comes Gilbert to the rescue—in the wedding-festooned John Deere.


Earth from Three Lands

Earth from three lands mixed—Zambia, Lukenya, California.

We were meeting Ronah Mussenge, David’s bride-to-be, for the first time.

And that first time was on their wedding-day.

And not only that, but the wedding was going to be at the Red Rhino Orphanage Project in Lukenya, where we hadn't been for four years.

So we experienced all three—meeting Ronah, being at the wedding, and seeing these children in their home at Red Rhino—all in one day.

When we had been at Red Rhino four years ago, the steel trusses for what would be the kitchen and dining hall were going up.

And now, four years later, the building was hosting the wedding of the orphanage’s director and the children’s Auntie Ronah.

The children were going to dance Ronah up to the altar.

“We’re going to lose it then,” I told Monte who’s made three earlier trips to work as a volunteer at Red Rhino.

“I thought you were exaggerating,” Monte told me later.

“But, yeah, I lost it then myself.”

Afterwards, as the girls—Prudence, Faith, Rachel, Frida, Peace, Mercy, and Mrs. O’Bama (because her name is Michelle)—flocked around their good friend, Ronah told them that there was one small diamond on her engagement ring for each of the children at Red Rhino.

And so the girls counted the stones meticulously. There are twenty-two children at Red Rhino.

“But there are twenty-three stones,” the girls said.

“One of the stones is for your aunties,” Ronah told them.

 The children’s aunties are the women who look after them.

On the day of the wedding, when we had turned off the paved Mombasa road onto the murram Daystar road to the orphanage, the conversation in the landcruiser went mostly silent.

So many memories rose as we traveled along this road again.

For one thing, each of us has had important experiences with giraffes here.

Once, for instance, as we were returning late from Nairobi, we spied these stately, shadowed presences moving quietly through the night.

"Can we stop and get out?" I begged.

"Sure," said Dave, "why not?"

And so soon—the engine off now—we found ourselves wandering as if in a dream among these graceful night-shadows.

There were no giraffes in sight along the road on this wedding day, but there were elands, and as almost always, wildebeests and zebra and Thompson’s gazelles.

We’d seen photographs of the orphanage completed and the kids at home. But we hadn't been there in person yet.

What strikes you—whether it’s your first time or you remember the land as nearly barren and barely delved—is simple.

Home. Unsentimentalized. No need for cute.

What, if we’re lucky, each of us has found once, only to lose again. It seems that most of us can’t simply inherit home. We have to create it, too.

And yet at the same time, how many places, so deeply lived in, welcome us back home as well?

The kids have as much of a stake in this marriage as anyone. Maybe more.

They already call David “daddi” and Ronah “auntie.”

So on the day of the wedding, the discussion among the children became rabbinical.

“If you’re marrying daddi,” they report to Ronah, “then you must be mami now.”

“Do you want me to be your stepmother?” Ronah asks.

“No, not stepmother,” they answer.

We haven’t introduced the guests. We’ll do that next time.

But in the meantime, suffice it to say, this wasn’t a “destination” wedding unless the destination—no matter how complex—is home.