Colors of Africa

by Elouise


red ochre seeps
through thin young veins
leaves blush

* * *

In Fall 1999 I went with D to a seminary near Nairobi, Kenya, for my fall sabbatical. D has a long history with the seminary. I’d been once before. This was my first longer-term visit.

Mom had died in February that year, 78 years old. I was still grieving, shaky and uncertain about my identity without Mom present in my life.

My teaching load was light. I facilitated my favorite seminar ever–how to reflect theologically on biblical narrative–attended seminary functions, did a little speaking and a lot of listening and travel.

Just after we arrived, we went to the fall faculty retreat at a conference center outside of Nairobi, near Mt. Kenya. D took this photo on our way back to Nairobi.

The area around and north of Nairobi is a riot of colors and lush greenery. At the very base of everything, though, is red ochre. It’s everywhere. It isn’t simply in the earth; it is the earth. It’s also the fine dust floating through the dry air, coloring the water during short and long rains, seeping into and clinging to everything. A reminder of our origins.

Psalm 103:13-14 (NRSV, slightly edited by me)

As parents have compassion for their children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear God.
For God knows how we were made;
And remembers that we are dust.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 August 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, September 1999, Ngini, Kenya