I hold onto my sister’s baby carrier while my she puts money in the parking meter. My own kids--normally hooked onto my waist and my wrist--are at Grandma' houe.
Life feels out of place today. Spring has come early to Colorado—maybe too early—and the trees are already blooming, not knowing or caring if another freeze will stop the life.
I am out of place here. This trip to Colorado is not during a furlough. It feels like a dessert trip—sweet and indulgent and more rich than I think I deserve. I should be sweating in Indonesia where tropical life never stops for freezes.
And maybe this baby shouldn’t be here. And with all the pain in my sister’s life in these last two years—a miscarriage, then a too-early birth of her baby who breathed just one hour—her new baby sleeps blissfully ignorant. She doesn’t know all the risks she overcame to live. She doesn’t know of the loss that came before her.
Maybe I should be used to it by now. This out-of-place-ness that clings to the day as I order cheese fondue from the cute Old Colorado City French restaurant. An entire bowl of cheese? That valuable commodity that is costly and rare in my Indonesian home—pervades American menus in warm, comforting abundance.
Even after seven years in Indonesia, I still live out of place. I live in a World of Less, blessed beyond measure by a college degree and a husband who won’t ever leave me and a meager retirement account that, even in its losses these past few years, is rich with a wealth that most of my Indonesian friends will never see. Blessed by a God who requires nothing from me, who gives everything so that I can live with riches that aren’t limited by numbers in an earthly bank account.
Out of place. Taking the path that most Americans will never experience. Having children overseas. Eating rice harvested by people I know, flown in by my husband’s airplane. Geckos living on my walls. Passport filled with stamps and visas written in foreign languages. ABCs sung in Indonesian from my little boy’s bilingual mouth.
And now, back in my home country for a visit in a place that has rules I’ve forgotten, culture that now feels weird at times, and the realization that I’ll be out of place wherever I go.
Some days, it’s easy to dwell on the hard things of living Out of Place. The loss of not living near family all the time. The heartache of watching lives lived without—without opportunity, without marriage that lasts, without money, without a God who doesn’t demand. The exhaustion of spending a life in my fumbling way that I hope serves others, serves my God, but sometimes ends messy and sweaty.
But today on this sunny stolen spring day, I am overwhelmed with the good things from this Out-of-place-ness—the things I don’t deserve. Siblings who listen and care and let me drop in and out of their lives. A niece who smiles gorgeous at me. An ongoing romance that still makes me long for my husband’s embrace. A chance to teach orphans English or support a husband who provides life-changing flights or love people who are unknown to the rest of the world, but pursued by the One who gave everything.
And the hard-learned realization that being out of place--both in my body and in my soul--feels more and more like home.
And so, I say thanks for the things I don’t deserve and the gifts I don’t have to earn and the spring in my soul that reminds me of the miracle of life. That is available to all.
photo credit, seyed mostafa zumani