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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"To the rescue: Kamchatka!"

"To the rescue, Kamchatka!"

What an amazing world we live in! I love it.

I'm reading Ian Frazier's wonderful "Travels in Siberia," and enjoy his wry humor and his very basic introduction for us to the basic concept of Siberia. Describing the goings on in a Russian grade school, the very back of the room was deemed, "Kamchatka," the back bench where the slowest learners sat.

When all else failed and none of the brighter children in the front of the classroom could come up with the right answer, the teacher would point to the back bench and, vainly, say, "To the rescue, Kamchatka." Even in Siberia, Siberia is Siberia.

To travel through Siberia has always been one of my life's goals. And I'm not giving it up yet. The whole sanitation/hygiene thing worries me -- to say it's not a pretty sight is to fail to even yet begin to describe the, well, disgusting yuck out there. So that will be a challenge. But, Siberia. My whole life, even before I knew about geopolitics, I wanted to travel in Siberia. Maybe it's the effect of growing up out here in the empty plains, steppes, of northern Colorado, no mountains yet, just vast space, like empty pages to be written on. What is out there?

So far I've been as close as a town several kilometers east of Moscow. I've got a ways to go.

This fascination with Siberia and the great unknown, new cultures and different people seems to connect with what I just noticed on my Facebook wall. Several people "like" a link I just posted. And these several people live in Japan, Germany, Finland, Estonia and Madision Wisconsin. And that's only so far. The woman from Japan is Japanese but she grew up in Beirut and studied at Harvard. The friend in Finland is from Rockford, IL but married and living in Finland for over a decade. Bill, in Berlin, is also an American but Heino is really from Estonia, a native Estonian who was pastor in the smallest village in the entire USSR and whose entire population was deported to Siberia during WWII. Heino studied at Princeton. Is this a great world or what?

What a mixed up mass of migrants we all are. Before it's done I expect friends from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, maybe Mexico and Milwaukee to also "Like" my link. A BBC headline tonight reads, "Obama Calls for Migrant Overhaul." I guess that means I'm going to get work done! And you too. Because we're all on the move.

And the link itself is grand news. The Presbyterians have (finally?) joined the ELCA in removing the barrier to gay clergy serving in active ministy. That is gay clergy who are in relationships, not celibate as was required before. So, from the front of the room, Finland, Berlin, Madison, Tokyo, Tartu, the globalized room that doesn't even consider Kamchatka remote anymore, friends are popping up to celebrate together this good news.

What a privilege. To be connected. Even to Siberia. I'll hear from Novosibirsk, I bet. Nobody is beyond the pale anymore. Nobody is in Siberia. Except of course the people actually in Siberia and that's not quite Siberia anymore, not like it used to be.


Who's up for the Trans-Siberian Railway with lots of side trips thrown in? Kamchatka is on the agenda.

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