Friday, September 28, 2018

There and Back Again

I'm home. It's the phrase you call out when you arrive in your place. It can be more than one place, I'm finding. Like when you're a student away at university and you find yourself back in your parents' announce you're home.  When you arrive after a busy day at work and the kids are already home from school, it's your announcement that you're home.  It can be two places at once. Or more.
It can be your home town. Where you grew up. A place that feels like. It can be a place that you feel most like yourself in.

I went home. And I'm back.

I had a really incredible trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia. I went with the remnants of a broken heart and I came back with some of the pieces back in place. I went with places intact that have broken differently for the things I witnessed and the challenges that people I love are facing. I'm broken and healed at once.

I'm home. And I left it.

I'm back in the kitchen and listening to the boys' talk about their weeks of independence and celebrating their success at keeping themselves fed and at work and at school. I'm hearing about their day to day in a condensed form and eating nachos and wondering if the past three weeks even happened at all. I was just sitting at a feeding point, eating nshima and sauce, avoiding the fish and passing off my vegetables to my friend at my left. I was sitting with friends on the floor of one of the homes I've spent years in and out of and listening to the incredible frustration and pain in the voices of those I love who are stubbornly and persistently rising to face the challenges of feeding and caring for children in their community. 

I'm with my family and I'm separated from them.

Over the past nearly ten years, I've lived in two spaces. Between home and home. Between here and there.

It doesn't get easier. There are never guarantees on when we'll be together again in person.
It always gets deeper despite lengthy times between visits. The relationships strengthen despite the absences. I think because when I do actually get to show up in person, it's just a physical presence of the relationship that stays intact even when we're apart.

I'm the one who travels to visit but they are the ones who hold things together in the mean time.
And this time, it's been difficult. Zimbabwe is in transition. Things are difficult in their economy and yet our care workers remain steadfast in their commitments to serve the vulnerable in their communities.  In Zambia, though the wealthy are growing wealthier, the vulnerable grow more vulnerable and the work becomes harder and spread more thinly. And yet, they stay the course and serve these children daily, often taking on children in their own homes and caring for them out of their own thin pockets as well.

I'm here but I'm back there as well. I've got a head and heart full of things I've seen and heard to process. Questions to be asked. Responses to be made. Prayers to be said. Memories to sift. Weight to carry and a burden to be shared.

I'm home but never fully anymore.