Five years ago, I woke to African winter, the Moroccan chill persisting heavy in the tile-floored, plaster-walled apartment building. That sour smell, tannery leather, permeating the air by the closets and doors, where pointed slippers waited for children’s feet.
The sing-song, harsh Arabic, spoken rapid and forthright. The broken English of flirting men (and aren’t we all broken, not knowing what we want, aware only of our hunger, and our pulsating wish to be happy?).
Rounded woman walk with rounded steps in flour-sack jelabas, traditional garb meant to preserve modesty and prevent lust. (And don’t we all cover up our warped-ness? The inexplicable mix of good and bad wrapped in our souls, aching to be sorted and set right . . . and we cover and compensate to protect ourselves and others from our brokenness.)
Bagged garbage plopped on corners and edges of wide cobbled sidewalks waits removal . . . sometime. This cultural mindset does not make room for proactive stewardship and preventative measures—it’s fatalism all over, and life does not stand much chance of getting better. (And don’t we pile soul garbage along the edge of our heart pathways, just so long as we have room to squeeze by and still function, we consider ourselves okay? And all the trash we don’t know what to do with, and the stuff that clutters, we hope Someone can clear away or recycle . . . before summer heat makes it stink).
Black eyes stare wide behind ebony lashes, gawking at the fairer-skinned, blue and green and brown-eyed children walking with me. (And don’t we find the unknown, un-possessed, un-assumed beauty entrancing? How often we look so far out of our league to compare, that we miss the humbling, ordinary beauty of grace, the whisper of mercy, spoken over us every moment? And don’t we cheapen our potential for happiness by always looking at someone else, instead of looking into the eyes of the SOMEONE Who made us, and freely offers us life in His hands? And what grief we inflict when we refuse His gifts, His outstretched hand, because His hands were torn with nails and scratched deep with thorns, and to receive from Him means receiving pain AND joy as gifts. Receiving means to Trust Him more than trust the gift. And we’d rather not take the risk).
The street bustle: not because people move fast, but because people walk everywhere. My casual gait propels me faster than the local pace . . . and I wonder if these people have purpose outside of their daily tasks and errands. And two sides of the revolving coin show themselves: how often do I spin my tires in an effort to look productive and feel like I’m going somewhere meaningful? And, how often do I sink into a routine’s confinement, letting a circumstance, instead of the Reality of a loving God, define my life?
And these pictures, cured and understood over time, continue teaching and speaking, and saying clearer that soul-film is thin, and life crust is fragile, and under each blinking eye waits a heart in pain, longing to be found, to be heard; a heart waiting to wake to beauty and joy.
And in the ordinary, the hum-drum, this is where Grace beats her rhythm . . . for the song of glory.