Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life Goes On But...

I’m feeling despondent today.  Isn’t that a good word?  It reminds me of a group I was a part of once when we had to start off with a “feeling” word.  Our leader would have been proud of me.  Anyway, a follow-up question might be, “What’s the reason for such a strong feeling?”  My heart and mind are heavy for Ukraine.  Since Russian forces have now brazenly invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are losing ground, new cities are under siege, and refugee counts have risen.  I really don’t see how Ukraine can defend itself against a bigger and stronger army.  Those soldiers fighting and dying, I don’t know them (well, only one that I know of), but I COULD know them.  That makes casualty reports more than just mere numbers.

Nine days of school are behind us.  The rhythm of school days are, in their own way, comforting.  Early morning alarms – still too early – call us to start another day.  By 7:15am we are loaded in the car with our backpacks and lunches.  We make it home around 4:30pm to set upon homework, dinner preparations, grading, walking the dog, etc.  Just a normal day.  They are good days with learning, playing with friends, meaningful conversations.  It’s even normal to turn on the news and hear casualty reports and see buildings destroyed by shells.  

Life in Kyiv, for the most part, carries on as it did before.  Differences are noted for those living in apartments as most of the city has no hot water in order to conserve gas.  Probably the most unusual thing is to be evacuated from a local mall due to a bomb threat.  Otherwise, life goes on. 

But behind nearly every conversation, pulling back on every future plan, lingering in the shadows of our minds is the fact that Ukraine is at war.  The implications are numerous and complex.  For Kyiv, the most pressing is the question of heat.  It’s very possible Ukraine will not have enough natural gas (because Russia has cut the gas flow) to provide heat this winter.  40% of natural gas can be provided in reverse flows from Europe but that is still not enough.  The electric grids cannot support every home plugging in an electric space heater.  Public schools are preparing for a two-month winter break because there isn’t likely to be heat.  Our school, which rents a wing of a deaf school, is also facing such a risk.  As a family we are contemplating buying a Diesel generator.  Whichever way you look at it, it’s likely to be a very C*O*L*D winter.

To turn my despondency around, the words of Psalm 42:11 come to mind.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.