Of Beets and Bounding Lambs

The wind and sun dry the soil from the rains earlier this week. Below the surface I feel the dirt between my fingers, caking under my fingernails and in the small grooves on my palm and fingers; I could give a fingerprint with dirt. I take each beet by hand, their thin red roots wrapping through and around their soil blocks, two or four leaves taking shape, and place it […]

18 Months

18 months of travel, volunteering, farming, writing, listening, learning, etc. is coming to an end. I made a list of words, ideas, thoughts, feelings that arose while thinking about the last year-and-a-half. It came out in poem form, and I decided to share it with you: Loss, grief, death, sadness, disillusionment, distrust, despair, abandonment, forsaken. Cross. Tears. Lament. Anger. Fist. Root yourself. Be present. Do not be afraid. Only in […]

Black Sea Portraits

Perhaps the single most significant aspect of our 18 month journey has been the many people we have been honored to know along the way. For our final three months – which we spent roughly circumnavigating the Black Sea – I wanted to document some of these “everyday” people with whom our lives have intersected. So, in each country bordering the Black Sea that we visited, I asked people we […]

If Not Us, Then Who?

Alla sits behind a table, blond hair swept to the side, black jacket emblazoned with the Ukrainian symbol on the breast, the blue and yellow flag on the left arm, a blue and yellow heart on the right. She glances up at us with an apologetic gesture to wait a few more minutes. We signal back not to worry. What she is doing is more important than our interview. In […]

If the Snipers Like You, They'll Let You Go

Two days prior, they had heard the news: the separatists had taken Sloviansk and Lysychansk, just ten kilometers away. But they continued living their lives. Like every day before, Mila walked to work. She quickened her pace when she realized men in fatigues carrying assault rifles walked through the nearby park. She arrived at the hospital, afraid of what the day would hold, but carried out her nursing duties as […]

The Body and the Blood: Communion in a War Zone

We crowd around a table that is too large for the entryway-turned-dining-room of the community center in which we find ourselves. Like many social institutions in Kiev, this one has been converted into a shelter for families fleeing the war in Eastern Ukraine. Some families fit into a single room, while others occupy rows and rows of bunk beds in a large common hall, blankets draped over the bunks to […]