Rebuilding the wall

On 22nd December I decided to keep a list of concerns that people shared with me over a two-week period.  I’m not much of a talker and didn’t expect to have many conversations to draw on.  Yet even in brief exchanges, my ears pricked up when people invariably told me their troubles.  I was shocked by the number of things I could write after only a couple of days, and realised how often news of problems goes straight over my head.  There have only been two days where no one complained about their life:  1st and 2nd January.  Probably because we’re all on holidays…

Here’s a short undetailed list of the problems of the average Australians I chat to:

*  the Christmas season aggravates the aloneness of the lonely

*   some adult children never contact their parents, even at Christmas

*  some small children go to one parent’s family on Christmas Day leaving the other parent alone for Christmas

*  some struggle to keep their partners happy

*  some have the flu or gastro

*  others are in hospital

*  a few lost their jobs in the pre-Christmas week

*  others have been applying for jobs for months with no result

*  some have threatening neighbours

I don’t have solutions, but I listen and feel sad with them.

I got the idea of noting down people’s problems after reading the first few paragraphs in the book of Nehemiah.  He had asked his brother about the condition of the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and learnt they were in disgrace and Jerusalem’s wall was broken down.  His reaction was to sit down and weep, and then mourn, fast, pray and set about helping them rebuild the wall.

While I haven’t sat and wept, nor mourned or fasted (not possible at Christmas), I have prayed.  And like Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king, I have had some opposition, and some success.

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Dear reader…

To my surprise, in my summer years, I find language and words filling my life.  On any day, I spend hours dealing with language.  This weekend, for example, the last day of 2011 and the first day of 2012, I have helped an eight-year-old learn to read;  I have read chapters and chapters, on a recommendation, of Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage (it’s my third go at this book);  translated part of a 19th-century French novel into English;  written six postcards telling foreigners of the wonders of Australia;  written a calligraphic quotation for a German penfriend;  listened to my neighbours, government housing tenants, swearing twenty to the dozen as it pleases them on this New Year’s Day.

I recently (last month) graduated with a Master of Translation Studies, and now I’m in search of things to translate.   There’s the interesting 19th-century novel, the one I worked on today, and there’s a French book on teaching three-year-olds to read which I use when I’m tutoring and which would be just as valuable to others, if they could read it.   And there’s my older thesis about French villagers who sheltered refugees in the 1940s, the one I wrote in French and would like, before my winter years, to translate into English.

Meanwhile, I’ve found this blogging way to share my father’s photos, and later his poetry, as a background for my interests, though the connections will at first appear vague to a reader.

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