Global litter…

I had an enlightening conversation this morning with  a Nigerian cab driver who talked about Nigeria prior to discovering its oil, and how oil corrupted his people and his homeland.  He spoke of the hopelessness of his generation and how “Nigerians now litter the world because we have no future in our homeland.”  He described how he’d promised himself that he’d only come to the U.S. for four years, then he would return home–but how much had changed at home in those four years, and how he realized that as much as he missed it, he could never make a life there for a family.  Many of his college mates have been assassinated for trying to evoke positive, moral change on behalf of their country’s poor.  And he expressed disgust at his own betrayal: earning a living dependant upon the very industry which ruined his nation.  He has now been in the U.S. (legitimately) for 34 years.  It was a gut wrenching, heart breaking conversation and tears rolled down his cheeks while he talked.  When I asked how things could change, he sucked air in through his teeth (in that Northern African way…) and said “I believe there is no hope for that land.  To go back and fight the system is certain death. Better to be littered across the globe than to go back.”

I exited the cab sobered, vowing to decrease my dependence upon oil.  But it sobered me in other ways: I was reminded of my own exodus from my native ecclesial land–and how very painful the denominational divorce was for me.  Much like my driver spoke, I’d begun to realize that there was no future for me there–but it never dulled the pain of separation from my ecclesial birth-family.  The nostalgia I’ve felt doesn’t outweigh the gravity of the spiritual danger it imposed–I’m better off having immigrated.  It was a death-dealing situation, and my newly adopted homeland (I immigrated 6 years ago) has been life-giving.

My story isn’t unique and is hardly singular.  Many of the colleagues with whom I went to seminary now minister in other denominations.  And many have cast aside all forms of religiosity in favor of a more benign ‘spirituality’.  We are ecclesial litter, to put it in my driver’s vernacular.  And while we have managed to thrive in other environs, there remains that twinge of homesickness.


6 thoughts on “Global litter…

  1. Craig Keen says:

    Although I am still a member of that denomination from which you emigrated, Donna, I do not receive a paycheck from any of its official institutions. I attend one of its churches and am still one of its ordained. However, after 24 years of teaching in its universities, I have found that teaching elsewhere has meant that I have become all but undetectable by the denominational radar. I don’t get consulted, I don’t get invited. My former students still remember me and have made it possible sometimes for me to find my way into the middle of denominational events, but that is pretty rare. The people who used to invite me to everything now invite me to nothing. And so, I, too, understand your cabbie’s heavy words and yours.

  2. Marilyn says:

    “exodus from my native ecclesial land” these words are so descriptive but I think the post shares only a fraction of the pain and story of both you and the Nigerian cab driver. And while your story may not be unique, what gives it a more poignant twist is the third culture piece, because that was an Exodus as well.

    • Yes… I do vacillate between forms of ‘exodus’.. they tend to shadow each other in my life. I keep waiting for the third culture piece to be ‘done’… as well as the ecclesial piece… and it never goes away. They were both too formative. Both first loves.

  3. […] 1. 2. […]

  4. […] 1. 2. […]


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: