Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Across Worlds

Its morning, and I turn on the computer, Facebook, and I am confronted by puzzle pieces, bits of story falling over my computer screen. I try to understand…death, children, school…and I realize there has been a tragedy in my home country.

I click on my email, and my Inbox is filled with bolded letters: ten dead in Goroka, including an infant child. My heart trembles—again! And I file this weekly report with all the others...the terror continues in my new country.

Suitcases overflow around me, memories trying to be packed into weight regulations. Today, my roommate is ‘leaving finish,’ as we say. No return in her future…and as this sister departs, my missionary family shudders under the loss. We must stay.

A skype call quakes to conclusion and the voices of my parents in America fade into static—my grandfather has been rushed to the hospital for severe pneumonia while other tensions threaten to shatter, shear. I close my eyes and imagine faces; this is what it means to go.

A knock on my door, and my national friend and I sit on our front swing as she weeps; two trucks collided on the highway—strawberries and bodies are crushed amid the stones. Her cousin won’t be retuning tomorrow. My tongue tangles over the language and I have no words; we hug.

I reread my friend’s letter, the words echoing the tear stains that ravage her heart. Her cries ache for a chest-squeezing embrace but all that can travel these 8200 miles are words. My dearest friend…

Oh God, how can I mourn across all these worlds?!

Across-the-ocean emails needing answers climb past 70; the literacy office calls me about an unfinished primer, and I hear the laundry buzzer sound. Snow buries my dogs back home (aren’t they cute? the photo captions read, and I agree), and I attempt to plan meals around our garden’s bumper crop of beans. I attend planning meetings for January’s church conference, and stamp thank-you notes for my departing roommate to carry back to the States. I hear of college friends announcing pregnancies, and I ponder Christmas gifts for children in my horseback riding class. What do you think of this political decision in the US? a friend asks, and I try to remember how PNG’s changing policy toward vernacular education impacts our work here. Here, hibiscus bloom in expectancy and my aunt sends photos of her garlanded Christmas tree.

Oh God, how can I navigate across all these worlds?

How did you?

How did you feel as you first opened your eyes, rubbed your tiny hands against the manger, and held those molecules together by your very being? What was it like to stand with Moses and Elijah showered in the radiance of home before you turned to answer Peter’s building request? How did the Lord of the Universe wrap Himself in time, becoming the God-Man—two natures, wholly one? What was it like to converse with your Father about the dance of the stars as your friends’ best intentions collapsed into sleep?

How did you stand, one foot in each world, straddling the chasm, loving both, mourning both, complete in both?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

... and they will call him Immanuel (which means, “God is with us”).

I don’t know how. But you did. And we rejoice.

Merry Christmas!