what they forgot to tell me...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

he greets me, whenever we happen to be there at the same time with the same words spilling from his lips.

those words said in thickly accented and broken english that my ears struggle to decipher,  he says it slow because he knows - this white lady can barely keep up.

it is not a house. not. a. house, yes?

and he pauses because he wants me to understand.  wants it to sink deep and so i nod my head and wait for those words i already know are about to fill the space around us,

it is a palace, kimberley. a palace.  you understand?

and yes, i do. i understand that what bears the marks of tagging and the places worn and crumbling because of age and use is so much more here in the the hardened edges around us.

he laughs at my attempt to say his name; me, the canadian with no ability to roll my r's with the flair and passion of his spanish, but i try and he applauds and tells me i can say his name in english.

i want to learn how to say his name in spanish.

the children too - seem to delight in the fact that this white woman who sits in the hot sun at the playground completely and utterly butchers the beauty of their language, but they are determined it seems to teach me the basics, even if it sounds awful and makes bellies hurt from laughing so hard.

i was warned about which colours to avoid wearing when we came to spend time at this place. i made a mental note and double check us all before we walk out our door, but they forgot to warn me about the most important thing...

they never warned me that my heart would break.

i remember saying to him, in the days leading up to his final days at starbucks, i said that maybe i would stay away, not because i was scared of gangs and violence and drugs...i was scared of becoming attached again.  scared of opening up my heart. maybe, i reasoned, staying away would help his ministry if i stayed in the background.

he paused, like he always does before he says something hard but needed,

you can stay away, kimberley, and i would understand. but that would be the most selfish thing you could do.  Jesus asks us to lay down our lives and lose them for Him.  to hide in the corner would feel safer, but you'd be missing out on everything He has for you there.

i didn't know what to expect, that first day or two that we were there, but what i didn't expect was the warmth, the joy, the shy smiles. i didn't expect to fall in love with their names. 

 he was asked, in his interview, how he would point out Hope to those who came because sometimes, in the darkest places, Hope seems so hard to find...

but it's there...in the names of the children.  when those mamas first held those newborn babies and breathed out a name over brand new skin, they named with a longing for Hope.

it's all around me.

it's as they sit close at the dinner table, as they yell out, hey lady! your belly got big! it's when they ask what time they have to go and it's written all over their faces that they don't want to.

it's in the wiping down of tables together and the sitting close on the playground together and watching my three run and play with no idea whatsoever that their skin colour doesn't match those of their playmates.  of that little boy with the big chocolate brown eyes who comes up to me and throws his arms around my neck before he ever says hey.

it's the 13 year old boy, shyly sharing his poetry with me as he waits for his brothers and cousins to finish playing.

i didn't expect my heart to break wide open and find myself with tears streaming down my face as i leave that part of town for mine. which honestly, neither is really that different from the other. aren't we all broken? aren't we all hurting in some way, trying to dull the ache with whatever we can hold on to?  oh, the houses may look shabbier if you cross the tracks, or they may gleam and sparkle if you drive further up the valley road, but without Hope, without Jesus, aren't we all desperate? 

i stood in the dark this evening as i waited for our dog to finish running around the yard, finish sniffing out the last of this day when i looked up.

today had been particularly hard, for many reasons, and at the end of the day a perfect storm brewed and i spoke harsh words to a strong willed daughter and we were both left split wide open and in pain. 

sin permeates both sides of the tracks.

but it was that wordless prayer that groped and grasped for words i couldn't seem to form that He answered on that back porch in the inky black...

because when i looked up in desperation He had already pasted it there at eye level, perfectly level and still...

the big dipper.

i can love and i can fail within moments of each other and i can mess up in a hundred thousand different ways, but His love is always sure, always steady and it cups around my failings and He offers that perfect love for me to dip from, to immerse myself in so that i can become a channel that He can flow through.

and i wonder, does He allow our hearts to break, to shatter, not so that we will hurt and experience pain, but so that His Perfect Love pours out freely from the broken...

to the broken.