This morning I took what will likely be my last walk of 2010 in this town where I have lived, so unexpectedly, for nearly six months. This is a town where I have done much of my growing up. I lived here for two years as a child while my parents continued their education and my brothers and I were homesick for Africa and learned about life in the United States, and I walked to school and to my piano lessons. I came here for college as an eighteen-year-old who thought I knew everything, and I remember walking to a friend's house during Freshman Orientation through the darkened streets, full of the wonder of this place and so many people who turned out to be wonderful too. I met my husband here and we took many walks through these streets when we were dating and had no money and no car. I came back here from Haiti as a new mother and carried my baby in her frontpack and then, as she grew, pushed her in a stroller through this town. And in January, this is where I took refuge with my children in my time of deepest need and weakness, leaving a shattered Haiti, and my husband, behind. And again, I walked.
I have blogged often in these months about my walks, about what I thought about and listened to and about how important the exercise and fresh air were to my well-being. I walked in snow and after floods and now, in July, it's warm and sticky and feels almost like home. I've cried and and I've listened to radio shows and sermons and all kinds of music and I've sung along with my iPod. And I've talked, on the days when I walked with my walking buddy; I'm sure she doesn't know the half of how helpful she was to me.
This morning I listened to Steven Curtis Chapman while I walked, in memory of those early days here, back in January and February, when I would listen to his album Beauty Will Rise again and again and again. (I posted several songs from it at the time, here and here and here.) Today I let the tears come as I played the whole album, tears for the Chapmans' pain of losing their daughter, and for my pain, and for Haiti's pain. I am grateful to Steve Curtis Chapman for writing these songs and performing them. Many of them he wrote in the very early weeks after losing Maria, and they are raw and full of deep grief. It is music to mourn to, and yet there is hope in every single song.
As I listened to the words "If you can't believe, I will believe for you," I thought of all the people who have believed for me, prayed for me, held out hope to me on days when I had none of my own. People who wrote to me, and sent me packages, and listened to me, and took me to lunch, and showed me love in so many ways. As I listened to the words, "This is not where we planned to be/ When we started this journey/ But this is where we are/ And our God is in control," I thought about the journey, the years that have taken me around the world, and the people that I have been privileged to know, and I knew that Jesus will continue to be with me as I keep walking.
Back in January I noticed a broken mug by the side of the walking trail. I'm not sure why I didn't just pick it up and throw it away, but I didn't. I kept seeing it day after day. The handle was on one side of the trail and the rest of the mug on the other. I speculated about what had happened. Had someone thrown it from a car? Had someone been walking and drinking coffee and just dropped it? Why was it not all together? At some point most of it disappeared, but the little piece of handle is still there, and I saw it this morning. It's getting a bit weathered now, after all these months. You know me, readers; I always have to make metaphors out of everything. That little handle reminds me of my grief. It's not as fresh now, and it's not everything that I am any more. Maybe it will get smaller; maybe you won't even be able to see it when you talk to me. But it's still there, and I know it always will be, like a little nub of mug handle that somehow ended up on the ground.
I hope to walk the streets of this town again next summer, but who knows? I plan to watch the parade go through the streets tomorrow, but again, who knows? Today is all I have for sure, and today, I had a beautiful walk and was filled with love and gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for this town and for my walks through it at so many stages in my life.
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