Monday, December 20, 2010

My Heart Is Not Made For Goodbyes

Dear God. It has been a privilege bringing Your presence to the Sophia Girls' Home and to the youth camp in Jhapa. But why does it always have to be marred by the inevitable goodbye? Dear Lord, does it get any easier? We build these relationships, pour our love with these feeble tools you have given us: these words, these emotions and limitations of time. Is there no other way? My heart is not made for goodbyes.

Do we have to constantly have to shed these tears? As if they were rains and we were the fields; soaking up every drop so that we might bear these fruit? Am I the bastard farmer leaving no time for fallow? Always sowing and reaping, sorting and sifting. Shivering under the mint blue sky as the sun pulls back her glory. Why have You left us to find meaning in revealing what the world tries to hide? This collective beauty hidden in a bowl of dust, a valley of brown. All the while you gently speak, "Lift up the dusty leaves of these fruitless trees."

Dear Lord, watch carefully as one of them clings to me. As if afraid that I'd never return. As if I would leave when she wasn't looking. She pretends not to notice the cold when we join the older ones in the field beside the home. And when I grow tired of carrying her about, setting her down on the grass browned by the dry cold air, she wraps herself around my leg. I pry her arms off and encourage her to play with the other girls. She dances a little dance to hide her shivering limbs, laughing so hard that I'm almost convinced that this moment, was the best she's had in her life. All seven years of it.

We gather in their main hall for our final evening. And right on cue, the girls open up to us. There's nothing like the urgency of goodbyes to dispel shyness. We tell them we'll miss them and some of them say 'see you in six months!' as if we were the decision-makers. In my heart, I plead with God to make it happen. But my desperation is soon distracted by their last-minute photo requests. From the corner of my eye, I see Bersha, sweet-faced and sad, sitting by herself on a bench. She watches, almost overwhelmed, by the proceedings. We never get used to departures of those we are fond of. Those like her simply can't hide it as well as others. I offer a smile and my hand. She holds on to it like it was a precious jewel.

They thank us for the bags they have yet to receive. I keep reminding them that it is the people of Charis Methodist Church that love them and prays for them. I'm privileged. I just get the hugs. Dear Lord, I miss them so much.

Shut your eyes tightly
Clench your fists 'til they almost bleed
Cautiously, lightly
Gently expose what's underneath

And all you feel now
Is the scarlet in the day
Even if it's real
You can't stay...

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