My luggage slammed into a row of seats as I tried to dash down the aisle and remove myself from the plane as quickly as possible. I had spent a week in Bolivia eating meals in the dirt, next to trash heaps, in a land scorched with drought and the threats of hopelessness. I broke bread and chiseled away at doubt.
I tumbled out of the airport and started taking hungry breaths – the high altitude of Bolivia left me weak and disoriented.
Jeremy pulled up. He always pulls up. He picks me up after my Compassion Blog Trips and we drive quiet because I never have words. I collapsed into bed and awoke to Jeremy bustling around the room, “Get up! I am taking you to brunch and then I am headed on my trip!”
Panic set in as I jolted awake, “What? What trip? You don’t leave for another three days!”
Somehow we both mixed each other’s dates up. He thought I was coming home earlier and I thought he was leaving later. I pulled on my clothes and threw my hair up into my messy bun. This was too rushed. This day after living in another land. But we rallied. We went to our favorite spot for brunch. We sipped on cappuccinos and shoveled bites of syrupy chicken and waffles into our mouths. I slowly started to recall hard stories and impossible moments to Jeremy.
It was easy over a meal. A meal always opens doors that seemed dead-bolted.
But the check came and our time was over. Jeremy stood up with purpose and exclaimed, “Ok! Time for the airport.” I didn’t really see my abrupt reaction coming because I am hard-studied in keeping tears at bay, but at the end of his sentence I burst into tears. Surprise tears are unforgivable – it’s like my soul was waiting for the perfect, unguarded moment. I looked at him alarmed and noticed he seemed almost more startled than me. I don’t cry very often, especially in public. He immediately took his seat and grabbed my hand. I just sat there and cried.
I finally produced the question causing my meltdown, “How do I reconcile what I saw in Bolivia with my life here in America?”
I am painfully aware that this land is not how it should be. That I am living with this heart that is slashed through with a memory? a hint? a thought? of a different Land. One that is Home. One that is right. I guess I want to not feel sadness every day. The momentary sadness that comes when I am grateful and I cannot believe how God has blessed me and then I think about my brothers and sisters an ocean over who are barely able to get one meal a day let alone 1/10 of the comforts I experience every day.
I am not saying I feel guilty or condemned. I’m saying I feel aware. I feel awake. I ache for a world without pain and suffering. I ache for a perfect world because I know it is coming. Because I have held a child with a hungry belly and had only gum to give. Because I have wiped tears from a mama’s face because her child was sick with a disease that should have been able to be cured with just a vaccine.
My life is spent in unending reconciling. Bringing harmony to the harsh realities of this life. Knowing who I am in Christ and then trying to actually walk it out. Purposefully entering the hurt of the world, the hurt of a friend, the hurt of a neighbor, without letting it crush me. Living in such explosive gratitude because of all the ways Jesus has blessed me and also humbling myself so I can bless others. Choosing to lean in and acknowledge the division of this world in a way that inspires me to action instead of shuts me down in delusion.
My reconciling happens at the end of the day at the table. You should have been at our table these past few weeks – especially with the current climate of the world. If our table has seasons right now it’s in a season of holding hard questions.
Back at brunch it was clear that my tears were not going to come to a conclusion. This kind of reconciling takes a lifetime. So Jeremy and I walked out to the car and we decided that I should just accompany him on his trip. I packed a bag and traveled with him. During the day we worked and in the evening we would find a local restaurant and come to the table to do the hard work of reconciling what God exposes us to (poverty, injustice, pain, death) to what our responsibility is as citizens of another Land.