Written on a bus journey

So much water. It rains and rains and the streets run with water.

The other day, I saw a monk sitting and enjoying a foot massage at the bus station. It seemed rude to ask for a photo, so I kept it in my mind, and I'm writing it down here. I'll forget it eventually, and then one day I'll read this post and t will bring to mind the monk sitting and smiling while his feet were being shaken back and forth by a machine in the grimy bus station.

I remember the sun, how it illuminates everything the way love does, bringing out all the color and texture. I am finding a way through, in being small. It has always been the best way.

The lights shine on the wet black road and I remember being a girl in the back of our minivan, my brother and sister beside me. We pretended the cars behind us were dogs and we were riding a large dog that ran away from them. My kids pretend something similar now, though we are rarely in a car these days, always a chariot, open to the wind. We drive down the village road, then the tree road, then the chicken road, then the flower road. Kenya has named all the roads. 

There are days when I grow weary of serving. And there are days when it seems like the most intense of blessings. Both are true; serving is tiring, and a blessing. My model is the giver of all life; Jesus also grew weary. There is that story where he went to look for a quiet place and the crowd followed him. I think of that when I'm just falling asleep for a short nap after lunch, when I've been up working since 5:30, and I hear the door open and Isaac comes padding into the room. He wants to take a nap with me. He lies beside me and tells me he loves me when I'm just about to drift off and I think of Jesus' compassion on that crowd and how I have such a small crowd in comparison. Just my family, my community, my circles of people. Mostly Isaac. He's the most needy of my crowd; a leper who needs to be healed again and again. A leper who throws food even though he's well past the age of throwing food.

An intense blessing: to be someone who can offer hope and comfort, even in the smallest ways. What a life giving thing, to be that person in the life of someone else. Even when they wake you up from the most lovely of sleeps, shoving their cute face into yours and saying loudly, "I'll be very quiet, Mama!" 

When you truly love other people, it is like loving yourself. You are affirming that the kingdom of heaven is a place that shines with love. It is radiant with kindness and grace, it is a place anyone would want to live, including you. A place where faulty, flawed people are accepted and cared for, not only tolerated. When you give that out, you are offering it to yourself as well. The more you truly love, the more you grow able to receive love, to offer it to yourself as well, in a square of chocolate, a nap (even interrupted), a walk on a busy day. Love without judgment softens your heart to receive that most intense stream of love, the one you can barely handle if you truly open yourself to it, straight from the heart of God. Love without judgment stops the cycle of love. Your first response becomes love. Whether it is your beloved, who can be irritable and short-tempered, a monk getting a foot massage, or your own tiny leper butting his way into your quiet moment, you look with eyes of love. 

This is the way to let the love in. Because "they" becomes "we." We are all loved, you think. We are all radiant with it.