I’m finding it difficult to organize my thoughts, my feelings…finding it difficult to explain myself to myself, let alone to anyone else. And I find myself retreating into, taking refuge in, the comforting familiarity of my former life, the life in which I have been dwelling for some years now…perhaps for half a lifetime. I don’t know…I don’t remember…I can’t make sense of any of it.
The images in my mind run rampant…the long, dreadful walk into the bowels of Kibera along the muddy, filth-strewn, germ-laden path past houses which could not even lay claim to that name…dirt-floored hovels without windows where empty-eyed, snot-nosed children in rags sat in doorways, staring as we walked by, the “rich” muzungus, heading to Tabitha’s Clinic, an oasis of cleanliness and sanity in a world seemingly gone mad.
The dark stairway leading to the apartment home of Julius and Beatrice and their children, the hall smelling of urine and damp with mold, as neighborhood children crowded around us, making of us curiosities at once amusing and remarkable.
The begging women along the streets, shoving their little ones forward to hold out their hands to beg, setting in motion yet another generation of poverty, of believing in the acceptability of begging, in the notion that they are owed a living by others who have more.
The horror of the images at the Kigali Memorial, reminders of the hundreds of thousands slaughtered, hacked to death by their neighbors and family members for belonging to a different tribe.
The remarkable beauty of the Village Market shopping center in Nairobi, with its flowing fountains, even in the midst of Kenya’s dreadful drought, with families sitting at outdoor tables enjoying a meal together, while others shopped in the up-scale shops for electronics and clothing and jewelry and expensive shoes, as if only a few miles away a totally different world did not exist.
So how in the world do I reconcile all of this? How do I put the pieces of this incredibly complex puzzle together, this puzzle which my life has become, this puzzle which is human existence on the planet Earth at this time? How do I define for myself my role, and what are the lines which I need to write for myself in order to live with integrity and truth from this day forward? For I am not the person I was when I departed for Kenya on July 3rd. Oh, I may look the same and sound the same, but I have been changed. I see with different eyes, hear with different ears, feel with a different heart. And though I have been trying to deny it by attempting to immerse myself in life-as-usual, I know life-as-usual is a lie…for I am living with a broken-open heart…a heart which bleeds for the hungry, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the hopeless as never before. And the woman looking back at me from the mirror looks through tear-dimmed eyes, eyes which seem a thousand years old, eyes which have beheld a different truth which I cannot deny.
So, here I am, God of Truth, God of Compassion. Here I am…though what that means in the grand scheme of things I do not know. Here I am…and where I go from here? That is in your hands…I can only open myself to wherever that may be along this long and winding road which is my life.