Those of you who are closest to me were probably privileged to be on the receiving end of a really emotional series of phone calls, text messages and distress signals in the days leading up to my departure for Zimbabwe and Zambia last month. As I packed, I cried and worried about leaving my boys alone for the first time and the idea of having an ocean between us was compounding my fears. They are good guys and I wasn't actually worried that they would act up, I was more afraid of something happening that would cause them stress or worry...so you know, I pre-worried and stressed it all in advance because that absolves them of risk. I know.
I landed in Toronto and I still felt completely ill about leaving. I thought about changing my flight, heading to Austin to my sweet friends, Robin and Bruce, and just throwing some old photos up of past trips to convince people that I had actually gone to Africa, because heaven knows, if worrying isn't the answer, being a fraud certainly is.
I didn't sleep much overnight and by the time I was in my seat and listening to the Ethiopian version of the safety message, I was exhausted. If nothing else, I thought, I was in the place where I was being propelled towards the destination through no effort of my own for the next 26 hours. And it was there that I felt my body relax and my mind drift towards excitement and anticipation. By the time I arrived in Harare and saw Farai at the airport waiting for me, I was completely at peace in my mind and my heart that I was where I was meant to be. The focus of the trip changed once I hit the ground, as Farai told me just as we were leaving the airport parking lot, there was a cholera outbreak and it meant that there was much work to be done to get ahead of it and ensure that our kids remained not only protected from the cholera but also from the potential of the feeding programs being shut down.
Since I've been back I've been wondering why after nearly ten years and countless trips overseas, I had such a visceral reaction to leaving. I think in so many ways, it was indicative of stepping out of the past year of firsts and into the new chapter of life after the break up of my marriage. I was still holding on to fears and anxieties that I knew were false and unfounded but it was hard to let go of those...and yet, I took the first step, it eased a little. I've checked for ways to circumvent the pain and avoid the work of healing and yet, I had to get into a space where I'd have to sit and be propelled forward alone. Once I did that, I could get to the place where I was excited and energized again.
It's a bit of a funky metaphor for my life but the truth is, I'm waking up happier and more energized than I have in a long time. There's still lots of unknowns and there are many things that threaten to shut down this sense of well being but there are more that enhance it these days. Our boys are doing well. I mean, really well. They are figuring out future plans and balancing work and school and play and still not able to figure out how to take the recycling out before it threatens to avalanche us...but they are really genuinely good people. This month we celebrated their 20th and 17th birthdays and it was without a doubt, easy to celebrate these two guys. Following closely on the heels of their birthdays was our Thanksgiving and though we were in no way traditional, we certainly had moments where we could express our thankfulness to and for one another.
I have always wondered about the power of God when I go to Africa. It's not that he doesn't show up here in so many, many ways...but there's something about standing in a place where you know you are exactly where you're meant to be in that moment that makes you feel completely at ease with his plans. I feel that in Zimbabwe, I feel it in Zambia and I feel it in my work here in Canada and especially in this season of living with pain and yet being surrounded by friends and family and particularly these two amazing boys that call me Mom.
I'm not sure what this next chapter...the year after...looks like....but I do know that I have been given some incredible privileges in being able to live through and live well this one life I have.