Our eyes opened

I didn't want him to go.  Not really.  Not when I looked inside of myself and knocked down the walls surrounding my thoughts.  I didn't want anyone to see this side of me, not even my husband though I'm sure he felt hints of it in conversation.  I kept my objections hidden in silence because they felt wrong, and they looked ugly.  It felt selfish for me to say I wanted him to use his vacation time for me and our family.

I didn't want to feel jealous, but I did.  I wanted to be supportive though I never tried with great intention.

So he packed his bags with only a vague feeling of my displeasure and took off in a plane to Managua, Nicaragua.  At the airport he cried, and I was glad because I wanted him to miss us.  It wasn't the first time he had taken a trip while I stayed home to care for our children.  And home was exactly where I wanted to be, but still I nursed an aching resentment of being left behind.

When he returned that summer of 2012, he shared all of his new found love for Nicaragua.  He wanted to go back some day with all of us, but I was less enthusiastic at the prospect.  My eyes had not seen what he saw, nor did my heart feel what his felt.  Somewhere along the line you lose the shock of seeing hungry children.  They saturate the media with one sad face looking like all the rest, and you become immune to the tragedy of starvation and poverty.

I dreamed over the pictures that were brought back, and felt delight in the stories I heard of those who had gone on the trip.  I had joy over their journey while still cradling a sense of melancholy over my lack.

Life continued and our children grew older and more independent.  Two years passed.

I am on a plane flying high over blue waters dotted by the occasional green volcano.  They stand silently beautiful, proud and majestic.  Tim is at my side with our two oldest children nearby.  From so far up I can see the dusted brown roads and the makeshift homes, the tropical trees bending their branches out and over the ground.  On land the heat folds its arms around us and squeezes close to our skin while the sun smiles cruelly at shoulders.  We board a bus that moves along at its own speed with no regard for our American rules as we welcome the dry, dusty air through the half opened windows.

I can hardly believe the truth of my circumstance.  That first night I blink my eyes in the darkness as I lay quietly on the bottom bunk so as not to disturb the silence with reckless creaking.  The room is hot and I can feel the fibers of my damp shirt clinging to my back.  I'm awake for a long while thinking about how this moment came to be.  So much was overcome for me to be here, and I am overcome with thankfulness.

And so it goes each day that I exist in Nicaragua.  A beautiful opening of eyes that see differently than they ever have before, and thankful hands that want to give back what they have received.  Finally my heart can beat with the same passion that moves inside my husband.  Finally I see the children who are hungry.  I hold their tiny bodies.  They are no longer images, but names.  I answer their smiles with my own as their joy grows contagious.

I walk away from my days there with a quiet settling of spirit.  I do not have an overwhelming sense of despair in the midst of poverty.  I am not buried under the burden of hopelessness and guilt.  I am not here to rescue, but I am here and I desperately want to be used.

In the first few weeks following my return to Cincinnati, my thoughts were held hostage by the experience.  Those weeks turned into a month, then two.  I kept thinking that with time and the business of living life they would eventually fall away.  That hasn't happened.  Always I feel it pulling me back, like I've left something there and I need to return for it.  Tim and I, we talk and we dream and we pray.  We don't know what our future looks like, but we are keeping our eyes and our hearts and our hands open to what God has planned for us.


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