Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scratching the Surface

I've been trying to sit down and write the things swirling around my mind but I can't seem to find any semblance of order to it all. Mostly, it's names and faces that come into focus and when I think about their stories, I don't feel I can do them justice just yet. I have to admit that the death of my little friend, M., has caused me to really question my level of understanding of what is really going on in Africa. I don't understand poverty. I don't understand suffering. I don't understand hunger. I've seen it. I've cried over it yet I'm naive to all the basics that the people I love are dealing with daily. By the same token, I don't understand church. I don't understand giving. I don't understand sacrifice for others. I've seen it but I don't think I've ever shown it the way I watched the people I love show it daily. I realize I'm just scratching the surface of understanding, much the same way this constant heartache I now carry is just a shallow version of the types of pain carried every day by mothers and aunties and orphans and neighbours. It's a heartache caused by loving someone you can't be with - that empty pit that catches you off guard wandering through a bookstore, picking out groceries at the market, driving down a gravel road with the windows open and the smell of rain emanating off the land. It springs tears into action before the mind can connect the thoughts and emotions. It comes on the scent of smoke in the air and in the particular way a mother speaks to a child reminding me of a care worker talking to an orphan. I wonder at times if somewhere in a small, mud brick room in Mulenga, if a young widow wonders about me. If she looks at the chair I sat in and held her baby and wonders if I think of her...because I do...all the time. When I do think of her, whatever I'm doing at that moment, here in my life...the comparison of her life in that little room and my own life brings me a little deeper understanding.

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