This is what you have been for me and for eachother.
I know what I’ve done:
bought lies on sale,
broken all the rules
ignored the wise
and followed the fools.
I know what I’ve earned:
the scorn of many.
the laughter of foes,
the whips of soldiers
lots cast for my clothes.
I know what I deserve:
to be roughly hurled
naked to the street,
blood rolling down from my head
in red streams to my feet.
In spite of all this
all the hatred I’ve earned,
all the shame I am due,
the consequences of my life,
have been carried by You.
Even in Honduras dogs flock to me. They are not the coddled and spoiled pooches I have left at home but skinny black mongrels Beethoven and Pantera. They are loved but not like children, more like instruments of defense.
Beethoven is ill. He is very skinny and has a leg that he won’t let touch the ground. Nena believes someone hit him in one of his wonderings outside of the yard. At first he was terrified of me, scurrying off the patio when I came outside. And Pantera, protective of her ailing brother, barked and howled at me once.
Until I shared my semita with them. Now I have two friends that sit as I write in the corner of the patio. Pantera just walked over to kiss my feet before ambling to her place at the foot of the armchair her brother is curled up on.
They are well fed and treated – better than some of La Ceiba’s children. It is one of the great ironies of life that I grapple with. My dogs sleep in their own beds and can count on me to give them two walks a day. fresh water to drink, food to eat or ignore, and treats when they obey. They fall asleep next to me, under my head, on my belly, and manipulate me with mischief into bribing them with sausage to behave.
And more than 300 million of the world’s children are without food, without water, without love, without protection and have no shelter.
This is why I get impatient with yuppy environmentalists who protest against dolphin parks and other forms of animal captivity. Do they not realize that in the wild many of these animals will die brutal deaths on the food chain? Do they not realize that in captivity they have a life of protection and provision that would be the envy of a large percentage of the world’s children?
One moment on my night of Flor de Caña haunts me today. A little boy, shivering with cold in a clinging wet shirt four times his size came up to the window on the other side of the baleada stand when we stopped at La Línea. As the lady prepared our baleadas on one side, his face appeared like a ghost, muddy and full of need. I dug through everything – pockets, purse, brassiere – secret stash for safety sake – trick learned in Jamaica from my daddy who uses the far less fresh hiding place of his socks. I found change enough to give him, yet not enough to make him the target of bigger urchins, and added it to the collection Boris was taking. It was handed to the silent little ghost through the window, cracked just enough for it to pass but not enough to let the rain in.
Beethoven has just stood up on his three legs and is barking an answer to some very chatty birdsong in the guava tree. One leg out of commission, he is still the boss of this yard and dedicated to his job.
So much of me is being wasted. The thought turns over and over in my mind. I wait for the time when my children will be born and my family begun, but perhaps it is not God’s will. There is a call deep in me to take a child home, to clothe him, feed him, hug him in the mornings and teach him to love each day. There is a burning desire to rescue a little ghost from begging at La Línea and to give him a future of possibility and potential.
When I was 17 years old my school did a mission trip to St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. The home of my grandmother. We worked in the library of a Catholic school and spent the evenings at an orphanage playing with the children. Children in the home of my roots, abandoned and in need. There was a little boy six months old and very sick. He had been found on the doorstep waiting for the nuns and covered in his own soil and was taken in to be nursed back to health and loved by childless women. There was also a little girl. I will never forget her name. She was six years old and full of energy. She took a liking to me, climbing me and asking me all sorts of questions about my hair, about my home, about family, about what flying on a plane is like.
I learned on that trip that I love children and that they love me. And I decided that day that one day, with or without a husband, I will give an orphan a home.
Each one of us over millenia have reflected a distinct and unique part of the Light. We are each created in God’s image and yet we are unique. Every one of us is a mirror created to reflect His identity, his Light, in flashes of lightning, mellow sunrises and passionate sunsets. He is like the sky and each of us a tiny sequin. No two sequins reflect the same picture and the sky is so massive that there will never be enough sequins to reflect it all. This is the basis of a Christian’s identity. Whether or not we believe God called us into being or that there was a Big Bang, or, like me, believe that God’s enormous voice called out a Big Bang, it is not how it happened but what happened that ties us together. We found ourselves here. Reflectors of His image.
Then came imperfection. Like a hammer it shattered the mirrors into shards and pieces. Now there are little bits of the image cracked apart by black emptiness of holes, scars and craters. Some have fewer or smaller pieces than others. But all are cracked. Each crack hurts – the edges are sharp and jagged. The pieces come into conflict with each other and the pieces of one slice into the creatures around. This is the brokenness that is the basis of Christian sorrow. The horror that salvation saves us from.
Grace was born. The glue born of the Light that stuck the pieces together. The stem cell that generated new pieces of mirror in gaping cracks. The solvent that rinsed the tarnish off the pieces and let them better catch the Light. The healing balm that erased the pain of jagged edges. This is the Christian salvation.
We are mirrored beings cracked and broken, reflecting light in places of darkness. Some consciously choose to shed their pieces, succumbing to the will of the deep, moving like the demons and tearing off the pieces of others’ images. Putting out their light. Their reflection. But never ever destroying the Light.
Then there are others, torn between light and dark or simply oblivious to the battle of the two. Blinking and turning they now reflect and then they don’t. They are unaware or reckless to the knowledge that they are a mirror designed to catch and explode in beauty, in the Light. Their pieces are neglected, tarnished, and dangling by an edge to the image. Some yearn to be beautiful and pure without knowing how. Others have no idea that they aren’t.
So fragile are we and so beautiful our pieces that we cannot begin to comprehend our own complexity.
And then there are the Children of the Light. Caught up by and addicted to God’s love. Coming out of the dark, some are drawn out by a glimpse of a sunbeam, others by a lightning storm, others still by simply opening their eyes to dazzling brilliance all around them. All are cracked. All are in some state, each a unique state, of disrepair. In the Light the glue goes to work, the solvent begins to rinse, and the stem cell is planted in the heart. There is healing and pain is attacked and prevented. The pieces no longer hurt as they did and the sharp edges of others cannot cut through the glue. The process is intense, life changing, image changing, but first and foremost it is heart changing.
So fragile are we and so beautiful our pieces that we cannot begin to comprehend our own complexity. Much less so is our ability to grasp the complexity of our God and our Light, bigger than the sky that two eyes alone are unable to fully see. So unique was each original purpose and destiny and so unique is our damage that we cannot begin to understand the extent to which we are broken. Our own brokenness is a mystery to us… how then can we expect to understand, decide on, and judge the brokenness of others?
But even more mysterious is our gift of Grace. The one thing that is never changing, never tarnished, never dark.
We are but pieces of glass yearning for the Light. Our wholeness depends wholly on the glue.
Today you, a gracious reader, gently reprimanded me for the raw vitriol of my morning post on Why Weak Girls Make Poor Friends. When I stubbornly told you I wouldn’t regret it you banished me from the Shaolin. Bless you.
The ironic thing is that this morning when I started my day it was with every intention of writing a post on the return to gentleness. A deeper look at the last four weeks and the progress I have made in taking the focus off of the idol of an idea and putting it on the blessed present. It was to look at the ground I have gained in forgiveness and healing. Before my train of thought was interrupted.
For the first time in the Journey of the Hair I took a step backward, out of my disciplined and focused path to grace and back into the jungle. I’ve been praying Psalm 35 and muttering “traicionera” under my breath allllll day.
This is not an apology. Not yet. Probably not ever. But it is an acknowledgement. A kick back to focus. An end to the drama. The movie is over. The villains are slain. Dead to me forever.
The post on gentleness will come. Just not today. Be patient with me.