Last week I began to discuss being people of peace in the midst of a world of violence, stemming from having heard about the attack on a Nairobi mall on International Prayer for Peace Sunday. I shared that this got at my heart because of our experience hosting an exchange student in our home from Kenya. I want to return to the question of being people of peace, but before I do I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote remembering this short year of blessing with our exchange student.
This experience was such a gift, and reminded me how interconnected we all are. It opened up my heart in a lot of ways that really matter, and reminded me how small the world is in the big scheme of things.
And I’m not just whistling Dixie here,
your progressive redneck preacher,
You came into our life
unbidden as a cool breeze in August
as unexpected as snowfall on a march Morning
yet just as refreshingly welcome.
as full of life
as momma’s garden
alive with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, and dill
with ladybugs crawling and dragonflies dancing.
Yet the life about you most resembles
the fireflies of autumn
that make music with their twinkling lights
shining around me like the circling fairies of children’s tales.
So you came, shining with your own bright glory,
beautiful as an ocean wave
and your time with us just as fleeting.
I would not trade that moment
anymore than the moment when
the salty waves cover me with their embrace
announcing even after through my damply dripping hair
I am loved
a child of God’s creating
inviting me to endless joy
even though it fades so quickly.
And so, sweet African princess,
your sojourn in our family
though short, will not be forgotten
not until I forget the dance of morning sunlight on the waters
of my uncle’s pond or
the cry of the katydid and kricket
in grandma’s field,
nor til I no longer know of
the sparkling whiteness of fresh plucked cotton.
Know a place always remains for you
in our Cackalackee home
and in our humble hearts.
May your life ever shine
with the same beauty
your presence that August day blew into our life.