February 8, 2016

Too Small

I woke up to the sound of birds outside my window. It was almost 6am and I was tired, but could feel that I would not fall back asleep. I tossed and turned a bit, but eventually decided to get up for a run. Strapped on my shoes and made my way out into the crisp pre-dawn darkness.

Out of the Daraja gates, I made my way toward Ol Giri Giri a tiny village a kilometre up the road. The landscape was littered with acacias and cactus, but the soil, even in the darkness, emitted a maternal warmth. The paprika coloured ground was vibrant beneath each step. Slowly, as I made my way up and down the gentling sloping hills, the sun began to make her presence known and my body temperature heated up.

I couldn’t believe it. Where I was. Who I have become. What I was doing. The only sounds: the cooing of some scattered birds. My footsteps one after the other. The day beginning. I didn’t see a soul on the entire run. Six kilometres, alone except for Rasta the dog, who was sprinting back and forth, I ran and let my thoughts cascade out of my mind, forming into tiny dropplets of sweat. My muscles important and alive. 

Life is painful. And to be strong might mean the ability to face our weakness and continue to move forward. We sat on the porch in the darkness. Two old friends-brothers, talking about the pain that comes from trying to save the world, right ever injustice. He told me stories about the selection process and the emotional toll of choosing how to save a life. “How do say no?” He kept asking me as if I had the answer. We sat in silence. My thoughts, one after the other, charging onto dead ends. The world might be too big and too damaged to save all at once. But we do what we can in the places in which we inhabit. It seemed too simple and obvious, so cliche that it rendered the simplest solution a moot point out, so we stared off into the night. The tears welled up in our eyes, unaware of the work that was happening down the hill in the classrooms and dormitory rooms so close to us that we could touch them.

During spiritual time, I sat with five Kenyan girls and asked them about their beliefs and the Seventh Day Adventist. They asked me about my beliefs and I told them I love Jesus, but couldn’t understand the god of the bible. I mentioned that he seemed too small to me. We sat under a tree alone-together with our thoughts.

Later I watched one of the most awkward and shiest kids I have ever taught, stand in front of twenty-five strangers and lead them in a hymn; he played an electronic key-board. Maybe this god wasn’t so small after all, I thought. The girls sang along knowing each verse and joining him in the chorus.

I think sometimes we complicated things a bit. Maybe the world is too big and our gods too small, but our actions, however small, have to matter for something. Maybe the solutions are that obvious- bring people together and let them eat together and sing songs together and talk about their beliefs. Maybe we just have to…

It was a long hard emotional day. And it is late now and dark and quiet again. The words forming and the ideas behind begin to fade- unsure if they make sense or will connect to anyone but me and this blank screen. But without them, the thoughts become too heavy and the world too big.

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