“All I know is I am not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong.”
It has been a little more than a week since I stepped off the hot, dusty tarmac in Belize and boarded a plane bound for home. A week of confusion. A week of sadness and joy and elation and heartache. A week of complete confirmation that my heart is permanently split between two – if not more – worlds.
My heart has been screaming at me: “Write something. You need to write this out. You need to get it all down in words.” My writing muscles, though, seem paralyzed by the numbness that seems to have set in. It’s a sort of defense mechanism, I think. A deplorable reminder that human flesh clings to the comfortable and flees from anything awkward. This numbness set in soon after saying goodbye to the sweet Belizean girls…a way of protecting myself from the hurt. A way of keeping myself from feeling the brutal harshness of it all.
As the wheels of the airplane lifted off the ground in Belize, I expected more of the same tears that have fallen every other time I have left. Those hot, aching tears that sting and somehow relieve the pressure of heartache inside me. This time, though, there were no tears. There was only numbness, as though the feeling part of me were still on the ground somewhere.
God took me there to give myself away. I went…I poured myself out in every way I know how…and I came home different. A piece of me stayed behind, and I had picked up a few pieces of others along the way. Pieces of me are scattered throughout Maya Mopan and Arizona village. Pieces of me are waking up on pallets on the floor…sleeping in homes with no doors and nothing but prayer keeping the “bad things” out. Pieces of me may or may not eat today. Pieces of me walk barefoot along rocky paths and pick fruit from trees not to enjoy the novelty of it, but because it is food…and it is there. Pieces of me are walking along rough roads, hoping and praying that no one stops to offer a ride; the ride they offer comes not from a generous heart, but from malicious intentions. Pieces of me are going to school this morning and dreading returning home this afternoon because violence surely awaits them there. Pieces of me are living today in a world that I still can only imagine, though I have visited it three times. It is a world that cannot be understood from an explanation, but only from living it.
And I cannot live it. I visit for a week at a time and then return home to comfort. Luxury, really, and extravagance. Signs everywhere that say, “Spring’s Must Have Accessory” and “64 Ounce Drinks for 99 cents.” Buy one, get one free. You’re nothing if you don’t have this. You need this…and this…and this. Buy more. Have more. Consume more.
But then, in my mind, are images like these:
And, of course, these:
Those and so many others flash run in a constant slideshow through the cinema of my mind. I’m washing dishes or driving down the road or waking up in the morning and the images come to mind. They come…linger…and penetrate as deeply as though I were there, now.
For me, over the past week, the question has been, “Now what?” I know what I know, and I have seen what I have seen. I have experienced it all…felt it all…again and again, three times over. So now what?
I have no answer to that. The journey, for me, is not over. I haven’t written at all about my experiences in Belize this time because I somehow thought that I had to finish up my thinking on it all before I shared any of it with you. I thought I had to have it all neatly bundled with a bow, so I could say to you, “Here it is: the lessons I learned in Belize.”
All I have learned, though, is that I’m still learning. All I am certain of at this point is that nowhere on this earth will ever be my home; pieces of me are too scattered with the winds…and besides, I’m not meant for this place, anyway.
I suspect more thoughts and posts on the topic of Belize are coming. It’s hard for a writer to ignore the screenplay in her heart for too long. For now, though, I have to accept that I’m still learning and that the journey is still underway.
Journeying with you,