I cannot sleep. I am tired. Irritating.
I’m too hot.
In my dozing I have been dreaming about my friends. Or maybe it’s thinking about them. I’m not sure if it’s thinking or dreaming because it feels somewhere between sleep and awake. Why can’t I get this out of my mind?
Baby wakes and feeds. I lay him back down…so sleepy that I clumsily bundle him back into his bed. It occurred to me while still half asleep, that I might have dropped him.
Then he wakes again and cries loudly about not being tucked up in the middle of our bed. I’m cross now and get up and out of my room. Which brings me now to 2:57am. And here I still am.
It was a great day really. I felt more alive than I have for a long time. And I buzzed and chattered as I do when I’m really happy. My husband always knows when I’m happy because I talk. And talk.
Today I visited the city mission, a drop in centre for homeless and needy people in our city. I went to help out with sorting donations of Christmas gifts.
We walked into the reception and I found myself in a confusion of people. It was noisy with voices, and I wasn’t expecting the chaotic feeling. So conspicuous in my white skin, I felt watched as we found someone in the melee who was apparently working there.
“We’re here to volunteer.” we said. The woman told us to wait. Instead of standing out we found a bench among the people waiting. They were waiting for their turn to be seen…some by a doctor, some I think queuing for food parcels, and a few gifts for their children for Christmas. As I sat I felt the press of humanity. I’ve felt it before, but not in this rich city, not in my home country. I smelled unwashed bodies and saw the despair of poverty on faces.
And it felt like heaven.
I felt close tears in the back of my eyes, but inexplicably a great joy, and it was hard to keep the smile from my face. Unbidden, the words sprang from my heart “I’ve found my place. I love it here. I will be back.” It had only taken a matter of seconds to know that this is something I loved. This is where I was meant to be. And I got the distinct impression that this is the exact kind of place Jesus would love to hang out.
We waited only a few minutes before being taken to a room full of gifts to be sorted according to age and gender. In those few minutes sitting on the edge of a bench among the crowd, I wanted to change my appearance. I wanted to change my skin and my clothes and blend in. To sit quietly and unnoticed among them. I don’t know what my persona said to them, but I wanted to say:
“Please don’t label me. I’m doing my best not to make assumptions about your need. I could be you. You could be me. Everyone has a story. Will you share your story with me? Can I share my story with you?
Could we one day laugh together?”