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August 14, 2005

Tomatoes, fresh from our garden, have supplied me with many a tomato sandwich this summer. These are simple sandwiches, to which I am fond of adding a few slices of fresh jalapeño for extra bite. Unfortunately, jalapeño peppers are not the only biting things in our garden. I have all too frequently been dissuaded from my pursuit of non-violence by the pesky mosquitoes that thrive in the shade of the various vegetables. They view me as a prime snack, and invoke the violence I otherwise intend to moderate. It seems as if their swarms, like the heat and humidity are unending. Fortunately, I know from experience that, with time, new seasons come and with them new perspectives on the world— new complaints, but also new joys. Last week I began orientation at the University of Maryland School of Medicine marking the arrival of yet another significant season of transition. It is exciting to embark on the educational journey which will likely shed light on the intricacies of my itchy immune response, and digesting tomato sandwiches. Who knows what else I will might learn.


March 20, 2005

Deep heavy thoughts

Of God and Life and Faith

Cutting and penetrating

What is real?

What do I believe?

The church is singing

Around me

Words in which I find comfort

And words that make me cringe

I want to just be here

And be myself, content

Not judgmental or critical of others

But part of the community

Part of the Life

That the little girl’s smile

So surprisingly shouted to me

Through her eyes

Peeking around her mother’s form.


A Spring Break Story (March 2005):

I spent a lot of time during spring break working on a scholarship application. I was writing essays with many nice words and comfortable ideas about community, hope and motivation. I decided to include the following story from Friday, March 25, 2005:

As unreal as it still seems to me, I think this will stand profoundly in my memory for a long time. My wife and I had spent much of the day indoors and decided that we needed to get outside for some exercise and fresh air, so we went for a walk. We walked several blocks north from our house and then headed back towards home via two small city parks. I remember thinking at some point on our walk about how even though I have lived in this city for five years, there are still times when I feel I feel like an outsider, aloof to the realities that so many have known all their lives.

When we were no more than two and a half blocks from home, on the street corner at a local school, I suddenly found myself face down on the street with a throbbing pain in my head. I jumped up immediately and turned around to see two teenage boys whom neither of us recognized. One was holding a length of bent pipe (the reason for my new headache), his eyes wide with a broad grin saying, "C'mon, you want some more?" His friend seemed a bit confused and asked as I did, "What the $%&# are you doing!!?" A few tense seconds passed as I waited for him to do something more or say something else, but nothing happened and Amy and I turned and walked quickly across the street as the boys headed away towards the back of the school. After some debriefing at my brother's house I went to Shock Trauma for a quick evaluation to make sure there was no serious injury aside from the lump on the back of my head.

I wish I was making this story up. I wish I could still say that I have never had any problems in this part of inner-city Baltimore, but I cannot. I cannot make sense of what happened. There seemed to be no motive for the attack; it seemed like a game to him. Was he high? Was this some sort of macho prank for him? I will probably never know. I do know that it scared me and that it initially made my words and ideas about community service and living in the city feel hollow and empty. What are we doing here anyway? What is the use if stupid stuff like this can happen in broad daylight while walking with someone? What hope is there for a kid who would do something like that? I am only thankful that the situation was not worse, and that no one else was hurt.

What's more, the timing seems ironic. Over the past couple of weeks at A New Faith Community meetings we have been examining non-violence and our responses to violence, and I am scheduled to lead our next discussion on this topic. Having had no prior direct experience with violence, I see this incident as a stepping-stone in processing the absurdity of violence, and preparing myself to be able to respond to it. I am hopeful that pain and fear will not cloud our vision for being a part of this community, even after an incident like this.

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April 2005

The warmth and the light

Push through the cracks

In this place

Beside the trash

The wasted earth

Wasted bricks

Wasted lives

other writing:

Swaziland 2002

Swaziland 2003

Intercultural Communication

Medical School Personal Statement


Christmas swinging

What's the worst that could happen?

Mustache & Walking Stick

August Heat

Tree Baltimore




Barack Obama

Late night caller




Double Cousins


Cows Are Tough

Intercultural Communication

update in progress