Friday, October 05, 2012

Where to begin?

I wrote the following back in May and never published it. Ran out of time. All the packing, all the kids home for summer, but here it is now. In October.

We almost made it through the school year.  I think my kids no longer hate us for moving.  In fact, Oldest is planning her bday party in a few weeks with new friends from her new school.  Oldest will be a decade old and we will celebrate with flair. She will also get an increase in her allowance and be required to buy her own gifts. And do her own laundry. Not sure she’ll think this is a good deal. But I do.  Oh, Oldest, you are growing up too fast.  And in a few weeks we’ll head to Africa together, she and I. Already, we are reading accounts of the third world, of war-torn Mozambique in the early 90s and our hearts are breaking together in our living room over all the poverty, all the despair that a human life can endure.  “I feel so lucky I get to eat these frozen peaches,” she confided the other night while pulling a bag out of the freezer. “Some of the kids in Mozambique don’t even get fruit.”

I am glad for this new awareness. I think it is shaping her to be more generous, more open-handed, more grateful.  And it’s all happening to me as well as I prepare to go somewhere stripped of hair dryers and product, in long skirts and tennis shoes (because this is Muslim territory). But that’s the easy stuff to give up.  The harder: there are no toilets in the bush. No running water. My friend Amy described her experience last year at a village she stayed at. There was a pit in the ground. And maggots crawled all around the edge of the pit, right where you’d want to plant your feet and squat.

I’ll be honest and say this won’t come easy for me.  But I’m willing to walk through it because I think on the other side of all this stripping away I’ll get something I need. Yes, I’m going to help others. I’m going to be of service.  But I think Mozambique will be of service to me, stripping away all of the trappings of humanity that masquerade as humanity itself. 

It did strip away. And what I saw was something I'd seen before except it was all in plain sight this time. And what "it" was I can't fully quantify in words, which is why I haven't written a blog post in three months. And all of you lovely readers who helped to send me and Una halfway around the world have been waiting so patiently for a report. Yet, I'm still speechless.  I think it will have to come out in bits and in pieces. 

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