As a mom of two young kids, I often wake tired. But this morning, I was supposed to rise refreshed, ready to conquer the world. My hero-husband sent me to the nicest hotel in our small town on the tiny island where we live. By myself. Without the kids. For a whole, blissful night.
Right after checking in, I wheeled my bag into the room, flipped on the air conditioning to high, and set up my haven. Scented candle? Lit. Assortment of books and magazines? Ready. Favorite Magnum bar? Check.
I was exhausted from a morning helping at the local neighborhood clinic, followed by making lunch for the family, then finishing all the details to get ready for my night away. I thought about taking a nap.
But I had too much relaxing to do—movies to watch, stories to write, books to read. I planned to enjoy some down time and then go to bed early—like really early—8 maybe?—and enjoy perhaps 10 or more hours of sleep.
So, 8 p.m. came and the hotel band started up right below my room and didn’t stop its drumming until 11 p.m. I brought ear plugs, which muffled some of the sound, but the sleep was light and I tossed and turned.
Then at 4 a.m., the neighborhood mosques began their special hour-long Ramadan call to prayer and I had somehow lost the ear plugs. So, my 10 hours of sleep was really more like 5.
But it wasn’t just the loud noise or lack of sleep that has been bothering me. In fact, I woke up at midnight—when it was actually quiet and sat awake unsettled.
Yesterday at the clinic, a neighborhood boy who the other volunteers said just isn’t right in the head, hung around while we worked. The other kids taunted him, and the adults shunned him.
He lives down the road from me and I’ve interacted with him over the years. When I am out for a walk or run, with or without my kids, he sticks close, tries talking to me, even offering to push a stroller or help me with my kids.
He’s not right—not normal, anyway. And sometimes he annoys me with his too-much-ness or even scares me with his closeness. But yesterday, I watched him and I wondered what it would be like if he were my son, or, if I were him.
Does he understand that the world doesn’t like him? Will he ever understand that there’s a God who does?
I still went into protective mode when he tried to help put my son in his car seat as I left the clinic. I shooed him away from my little boy, listening hard to the mother-instinct, just in case.
But as I sit in this hotel room trying to escape life and the culture and the heat and the chaos, I sit tired, as those things infringe, even in moments meant for rest. And even as I try to do what I can to help and look for that feel-good-ness of a morning of volunteering, I sit bothered, not forgetting about the very least, not even knowing what to do.
Yesterday it was a boy who isn’t quite normal, sometimes it’s other problems without an easy solution—poverty, spousal abuse, beliefs in black magic, lies hidden in religion, children who dig for food in my trash.
If I really wanted rest and sleep and a break, I would have to go far from life as a mom, and life on this island in this country. The needs press in, coming too close to ever truly escape, even with a hotel room and ear plugs.
But I asked for this. I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. To see the One bigger than everything bring hope to a world that hurts and hurts each other. To watch broken things be made priceless. To bring peace from the noise.
For me, sometimes that means more makeup under the eyes, or discomfort in the face of need. But the hard work—that’s been done by the Face of God. And in that today, and that alone, I know I can rest.