How to Make the Ruins Beautiful
I lived my life in emergency mode for so long I almost forgot what it felt like to have some peace.
There was always a problem to solve, a sick kid who needed taking to the hospital, a government office who didn’t understand our heart, a mama who needed a hand held while she took an HIV test, a landlord who wanted to raise our rent, a donor who needed an explanation.
They say Africa is not for the faint of heart for a reason.
And while I might love her dew and her dust, her people, the suddenness of her rain storms, there are some things I don’t miss.
Like the glimpses of injustice everywhere. Like getting the run around from offices when you are trying to do the right thing.
Like all the obstacles to Peace
The stress can pile on like a load of dirty laundry and I wonder:
How many of us live our lives like we’re on Grey’s Anatomy, shifting from one emergency room drama to the other without really checking our hearts.
How many roles we fill, how many hats we wear that we wish we could shrug off for a while. And yet, how these hats are the very things that fill us.
A couple of weeks ago I camped out in Mammoth with my man, to the kind of fire-side quiet that puts yours bones at rest.
Now that I’ve found a sliver of peace, I don’t want to let it go.
I’ve been thinking a lot about babies lately.
All that crying might screw with my zen.
But oh….all that curly-headed goodness. All those puffy cheeks, and stubby legs. All the ways they make you laugh without meaning to.
Thinking about all the sacrifice. Thinking about all the reward.
Thinking about all the mama’s who move throughout the day herding their brood, with little thought to themselves.
I’m wondering if I’m really ready for that.
It’s either that, or I’m bringing home a puppy.
What I find unbelievably crazy is that when I ask mothers if it was all worth it, they will most undoubtedly say, yes.
And yet, in some ways, I can understand it. Because if someone asked me if Africa was worth all those spent hours, all those bottled tears, all those frustrations, the loss of my body, my health, and my baby, I would say, “yes.”
Socrates said to “know thyself.”
I’ve spent many years getting to know this complicated girl.
Many years spending myself on the sands of Africa and I know what it is to spend.
Love is like that. We have to spend, we have to invest, if we want to see the ruins become beautiful.
We hiked to this waterfall. It was farther, it was harder, but when we got there, we were alone and we jumped into the freezing cold waters, laughing.
I am the kind of person who has to ask the question. Who has to explore all the outcomes before I can truly give myself. But once I decide to, I am fiercely loyal.
We have to know what we are ready to give. And above all, we must know what we need to remain ourselves.
I went running today to burn off the tightness in my neck and somewhere between mile two and three, I felt the edge of an epiphany.
We must know ourselves enough, to know what we need, and to know where we want to give of our energy.
Because there are only so many places it can go.
I was driving in my car today, and started crying at this song on the Christian radio, which is not something I normally do. But the guy was singing “I am,” and it made me realize that God knows who He is, and nothing frightens him. He just is.
And if the Trinity is enough for him, maybe it’s enough for me too.
Even if all I know is that I want to give myself to God. To the brokenhearted.
To the people that I love. And to a baby, someday soon….
Without giving up my peace:
things like running, or my writing on this back porch as the sun slips away.
I’m sure I will lose some of myself. I’m sure I will discover new things I did not know were there.
And I think that’s ok.
I believe the world will be saved by those who have recovered their hearts; those on a journey of knowing themselves. Those who know what they are called to give themselves to, at each season in their life.
I think I’m just looking for people who are on that journey too.