My car creaks in that funny way it does as I slide it onto the side of the busy road. But I hesitate to turn off the engine. Could I just keep going until the land turns to beach, then get out and swim my way to Australia?
“What are you doing, Mama?”
Oh, yeah. My son is in the back, accompanying me for my weekly teaching time at a local orphanage. I'm too tired, anyway, to swim all that way today. But one thing I know, I don’t want to go in.
Some days I just don't feel like serving.
I pray, starting then stopping again, creaking along with words like “need strength,” and “give me what I don’t have.” Click goes the key, the air conditioning dies, and I try to undo Evan’s car seat, ignoring my fear of being run over by a motorcycle on this main road.
I shuffle along the dusty path, pasting the smile on my face as I approach the house that is home to 15 fatherless children. I set out my wrinkled flash cards, the latest scribbled in my messy handwriting on my attempts at rectangles—the edges all uneven.
I check my bag and realize I forgot to bring the book I was going to read them. And up comes that urge to swim to Australia, where English is spoken beautifully without the stumbling instruction of this not-teacher teacher.
I press on, not in control of the kids who are rowdy and not listening. A couple of the girls flash their cell phones at me, taking pictures of my son and me while I try to explain to them that “yesterday” doesn’t exactly mean the “yesterday” word in their own language, but that “today” translates much more perfectly. I don’t normally mind the constant attention in this culture, knowing it comes from friendly hearts that want to love and be loved.
But today my edges are all uneven, my day all creaky. And my heart prefers to hide from cameras and all the things that keep coming, adding up to too many messy yesterdays (the Indonesian kind) that weigh heavy on my today (the English and Indonesian one).
I finish—no, rather, I surrender. Then I drive home instead of to the ocean and go through the motions of making dinner, setting the table, feeding the cats, tripping over the kids’ messy fun.
My hero husband comes home and hugs out my ragged edges.
“Let me help you. What can I do?”
And I melt into this man who has always known the right thing to say. He turns on music he bought for me, my creaky chores smoothing in the music-enchanted dusk-light. If I weren’t so tired, I would sway to the caramel tones.
I hand him a whimpering Renea who is hungry and tired and keeps drinking the bath water and the outside puddles, filling her diaper with all kinds of messiness. She cuddles into him as he dances, her face, smudged with mud, beaming.
And I see it.
I am her, ready to relax in my Father’s arms, his feet dancing to life’s music, while I hold on, my own feet dangling effortlessly.
photo credit, aussiegall