This morning I gave a presentation about my trip to Swasiland. Which was supposed to happen two and half months ago when I got back from the country. But I couldn't do it. The morning I was supposed to present, I cried the whole way to work. Not glistening angelic tears. More like mascara waterfall. Which doesn't happen often, but certainly it was alarming to the mass of morning office commuters.
Swasiland holds a piece of the purest part of my heart. In the same way the Philippines does. In the way my Sister Nora does. In the way running does. In the way so much does because they've all grabbed me and held me in a different way than all the rest. In a way that tells my soul it's okay, it belongs, it's beautiful.
Swasiland gave me sublime peace. The voice of external worry, judgment, cynicism, shame, was silent. Dead silent. All I experienced everyday was the beauty of the country, and the love and safety of all my friends. It was whole - more whole and tranquil than I've ever felt any other time in my life. Feelings were finished in freedom, in joy, in happiness.
So, coming back from Swasiland was abrupt and unwanted and left a huge hole in my heart, like saying goodbye to a dearest friend that I may never get to speak with again. The peace within me still remained, but I knew it would be fleeting. Coming home to a world of critical comments and tiny perceptions - such impressionable souls like mine struggle to stay afloat. So I ran and ran, keeping only to myself for over a month. And I concentrated on my peace. On my stark awareness of belonging as a full human - all experiences, all weakness, all pieces, proud of all the beauty, no shame with any of the pain. But even as I surround myself with as much good as possible, and I find this place of serenity daily, the negative still seeps back in. Gradually external voices began chipping away at me again - this doesn't belong, this should be hidden, this should here and that there, and suddenly I am no longer my own. But when I think back to Swasiland, everything was perceived with the grandest lens. I was mine.
So this morning, I was scheduled again to present on my trip. I already had my presentation prepared from months ago, so I didn't put much further thought into it until this morning. And I began by sharing that I sway on the side of speaking too little, but today I'd like to stretch myself in sharing enough. And then I'd like to end in why my heart leads me on these trips, which I don't share often.
Then I flipped through my slides, talking about the black oppression in Johannesburg. About the heroic efforts of young children to slide out from white supremacy. Showing pictures that I sneakily took in the museums with my cell phone. Then I proceeded to Swasiland. The location of our home on a nature reserve. The trees, the animals, the red-dirt roads, the sun. All the time we spent working on projects at child care facilities - building gardens, doing art projects, connecting with the children, and my favorite stories of sneaking into the public schools and playing teacher. Sharing my favorite story of the classroom wildly applauding for me as I shared my pursuit of education, of dream-chasing, of now being in this country and being here with them. I talked about the people I met. The friends I made. The open communities. Then I finished by showing a clip of an African dance performed by a group of local school boys.
Then I flipped to Mosiah 4:11 and read it aloud:
And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you.
And I kept having to breathe really deeply as I spoke because my voice was so shaky. My heart was so soft and so close to God in that moment.
Then I put a picture back up of me and the children as I finished by sharing why I go on these trips.
I believe so many things. I believe in a lot of good and grand above my own head. But we have so many elements to our lives - work, hobbies, family, friends, church - so much pulling at us and rushing us around at a really surface level. But I believe in deeper meaning, deeper love, and deeper hearts. I believe in my deepest purpose of connecting human to human. The joy of humanity, of ALL human experience, and the love found in helping a soul through life. And all of this connects me to a core that is more important than an 8-5 job, and mundane rush of the day. And I have started writing all my thoughts down relating to this, and I have titled it Still the Sun - the sun being God. When we still the world, pause the pace, we see what we couldn't see before. The sun shines more clearly, and God shines more clearly. We see HIS children, HIS vision, and HIS purpose, it's far deeper than our own, and it holds our soul in a way that we can never forget. It is a grander, deeper, more far-reaching lens. And I see life through that lens, holding my soul in the realm of what I really believe - of compassion, of empathy, of listening, of laughing, of love. I don't preach from a pulpit - I don't spout what I believe in people's face. Because of reasons that have hurt me so intimately. I am only capable of silently stepping away from the crowd and finding forgotten places to live my purpose. And I LOVE working with people, of every walk, of every place, of every background or past. And I do all of this because I love my Father in Heaven so much. SO much. I know that Man - I know Him greater than I know what's tangibly present around me. And all of that joy and love surges through me and compels me to get out and connect. Be with. Belong with. Love with.
I am His. They are His. And we are all coming home together.
Still the Sun.
Upward and onward,