Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Giant Cheesegrater in the Moroccon Sky

The clouds form a giant cheese grater over the Western half of the sky, slowly shaving away the brilliance of the sun, reducing it to a fiery orange ball as it passes through them on it's journey to brighten the other side of the world. The clouds have absorbed the sun's shed light, each layer turning different shades of yellow to orange to red before slowly melting darker into gray. 

Instead of a sharp line, the city-scape disappears in stages into the hazy mist and fog before meeting with the clouds. Just as I can't place where the Earth gives way to sky, I can't place how I'm feeling, or how I've changed in the last three months. Yet that doesn't leave me any less sure the horizon exists, or that I have indeed changed. "[A person's] mind, once stretched by a new idea [or place or way of life or experience], never regains its original dimensions." (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.). But how am I to understand these new dimensions when I was so unready to leave Niger, to leave the new life we had just started? How do I separate the feelings of being a fake from the feelings of new dimensions?

The sun reminds Morocco of its presence once more by splashing the clouds in purple for mere moments, signaling to the darkness that it could now advance unhindered to swallow the city of Rabat.

Niger has left its mark in me: it has widened my horizons and lightened my heart. Not least of all I have had the opportunity to learn a new language; to peek into how another people form their thoughts and command their bodies to move.

The first star bravely marks its place through the wisps of clouds from a sky the color of shallow water. Behind me a band of thin clouds display a brilliant halo like a neon sign, announcing the full moon, which in turn acts as the sun's watchful eye, ensuring the darkness doesn't last forever but instead will never have a complete grip over us.

I choose to take that reminder a step further. I choose to believe that God will never abandon us, that He in fact has a grip on us, even in this tumultuous time. Even when the sun sets, leaving only the moon to give us our bearings, its then He is strongest. Though my faith faulters, though my doubts seem to overtake almost every sertainty I have, He is there, just beneath it all; too deep to dig out even if I wanted to, just up high enough to give me a solid rock to stand on.

All my passions are in sharp clarity, yet the path to acheive them is maddeningly obscure. The knowns are few, the unknown profound. Yet I do have something to stand on. I have my soulmate and wife, with whom I get to go forward. I have an amazing family, and close friends to whom words can not adequately attribute the love and support I feel for and from them.

Tears have welled up suddenly many times in the last seven days. Starting with the evacuation phone call, moving through fumbling with words in Hausa to say goodbue to those we had just met. Coming back again and again as I ponder what and who we left behind, what's next, and where to go from here. The tears and tightness in my throat remind me this is reality, I'm actually in this, and that I'm not alone.

Thank you God for giving us something to stand on. Thank you wifey for being here, in this, with me. Thank you mum, dad, and brother for your life-long support. Thank you Eric and Michael for constantly loving, challenging, and encouraging me. And thank you to the 20 or so other friends on my mind right now but whom I don't have the energy to name here. I could not be here without all of you and you are the reasons I can bear the thought of coming home at such a premature time as this.