Seriously quiet compared to noises clamoring for attention outside our compound in Kisumu, Kenya - a city of almost 2 million. “Tuk, tuk, tuk” rattles, beeping horns, buzzing motor bikes, and voices exchanging business in Luo and Swahili while children's sing-song repetition of numbers carries from the small tent school across the road.
Now, enjoying the slightly crisp air of Colorado, I feel more than I hear. A soft breeze stirs. Sun streaks across pages of my bible and hits my face with warmth. Aspens’ slight tinge of fall dance on slender boughs.
Yes, it’s quiet.
I’ve been quiet. Not writing, not “unloading” the thoughts that churn my mind in the slums of Kisumu among the broken. For a few weeks I silently watch graceful trees stretch strong into the end of summer. The mountain peaks, a skyline scratching across enormous blue.
I realize I know that strong stretching, a beautiful scratching.
Weathered-white bark enduring seasons of change. Rocky peaks rising from the ground and scratch their rough edges against the heavenly expanse without leaving scars.
I know that beautiful scratching.
For me, it’s about a love that outlasts pain…
His course little black head sweating against my chest, and I cuddle his small body. Praying. He wiggles down, scraping my arms with rough hair - unkept, unwashed, ringworm patches hidden under moist tight curls. That evening the scratches on my arm’s tender part raise angry red.
Loving sometimes does that.
Remembering, experiences flood me and thoughts of charcoal-black mamas embracing hungry babies, wide-eyed and unresponsive with suffering that bites their hearts yet carries hope that keeps looking. Crippled children ignore their oozing sores, crawling along chipped cement because they see us coming and their longing for a touch, a smile will come true that day, even if it’s just for a day.
The lavish cost of loving includes the scratching, the scraping, the grating, the aching wounds.
Because it’s worth it.
It’s worth taking a risk, to be hurt, to live hard so others might live free. I don’t think people were made to stay comfortable, and I wonder if we resist suffering at the expense of loosing our ability to truly care.
Love in it’s purest form is raw, and real and firm, not wavering because He, LOVE made flesh, might take my hand and move me to search in the ugliness of life to find beauty.
He, who could have walked in the cushioned kingdoms of men, chose to live within empty painful places, filled with lost, lonely people. His love stretched strong across the expanse of humanity. He accepted the sore scratching, knowing in the end His wounds would let us love without enduring eternal scars.
That’s how we share a horrible crisis like death, enter unimaginable struggles with children, travel into darkness to bring light. We do it with grace and pervading peace because it’s not the throbbing sting that lasts, it’s His LOVE.
In my quiet, I’ve see this, in the mountain crests surrounding me, like carving a message in a tree that grows high with boughs that can carry the weight.
A beautiful scratching.