The breeze ambled down the dusty street, breathing cool in our faces.
It felt like the pockets of cool mountain air that used to pop my face in Birmingham when we’d go cycling in the summer, the days it felt like we’d passed through a hot Southern kitchen with the freezer left open.
I never expected that in the desert. Even at dusk.
I love this time of day here.
The city’s sandy white buildings glow rosy at sunset, like the sun in its haste to get out of this part of the world spilt a glass of pink lemonade right over the top of them.
“I love not having to walk this road alone anymore.”
Abi made the comment as she and I ambled down the empty road toward home, casually dodging the occasional cat or garbage dumpster, or cat jumping out of a garbage dumpster.
It’s a totally different walk when you’re alone.
Your eyes take in less of the sunset, less of the fruit stands and the children playing and more of the honking cars, the men loitering around. More of how the eyes are all staring at you. More of how little you blend in. More of how the darkness is falling quickly.
But with a buddy, you can drag your feet a little in the dust and let the sunset wash over you while you stroll home, laughing at how you almost just got hit by that kid’s soccer ball or that erratic taxi, or how you bet that family would let you come to their really loud dinner party if you just knocked on the door. Five dollars says they would. I’m sure of it.
And suddenly … we’re home.
The keys clank in the double doors, and I smile just thinking about my living situation. I have a great flat. I have great flatmates.
And temporarily I have a broken bed.
Abi rolls her eyes at me because I like to dramatize the fact that I sleep on a sheetless mattress in the middle of the floor at the moment. It’s only been that way a few days. It’ll be fixed in a few more days. I try to play it up to get sympathy, but it doesn’t work. She knows that the reality is … I could care less about it. I sleep fine anywhere, and I love where I live.
But it’s so temporary. I’ll be moving again soon. What I do over here on this side of the world has a transient nature to it – a lot of changing plans, a lot of moving. The sheetless mattress mirrors my heart a little. Why put on the sheets when you don’t think you’ll be there very long?
Most days I don’t think too much about how transient and unpredictable life is at the moment, but today as I sit on the edge of the mattress, a wave of emotion rushes over me. A wave of anxiety about not knowing where I’ll be … again. About not knowing how long I’ll be there … again.
A desire for something even mildly permanent.
Looking forward, my eyes drown in the details of the coming months. Where will I live and work? When? For how long? Who with? Will all my stuff ever be all in one country again? All the questions loom big, loud, uncertain and unpredictable, like I’m doing reconnaissance as I walk alone, trying to anticipate what could be lurking a few steps up the road.
And the Father whispers again … “You’re not alone.”
I’m not alone.
So why do I walk like I am? Why do I walk like He’s left me by myself to hyper-focus on things, panic occasionally and bolt through the uncertain bits like I’m a contestant on “Wipeout”?
He’s not left me yet. He’s good. He’s loving toward me. He’s always seen the soccer balls and the taxis coming, and He’s planned the sunsets and their beauty.
So, I remind myself, just let those sunsets wash over you.
“He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Walk slowly, for crying out loud, Grace. Enjoy each night on the bare mattress in this country. Don’t worry about where you’ll lay your head next.
Wherever it is, He’s there.