Morning rolls in with the gray clouds that now perch at the apex of the volcano. I sip my coffee. Nibble my toast. Admire the bright yellow walls of my new room and say hello to the pictures of friends and family hanging from my walls, reminding me of who I am, of the me I want to be.
I run my index finger across my great slab of desk, sweeping up a stream of dust, gray like the clouds.
A phrase flashes, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
It’s not Tuesday, but Eliot still speaks, still echoes.
Fear and dust. Dust and fear sit heavy in my room, my mind.
Madeleine L’Engle comes in, pulls up a chair.
“Remember the root word of humble and human is the same: humus: earth. We are dust. We are created; it is God who made us and not we ourselves. But we were made to be co-creators with our maker.” Walking on Water
We are dust. We are fear. But that is not all we are. We are also image bearers, light carriers, children of God. Co-creators.
Again the fear bubbles to the surface. I swallow it down with a swig of café negro.
It’s scary to be a co-creator. It’s scary to be responsible. To have the difficult conversations. To fight for truth and love.
Madeleine reminds, “The world tempts us to draw back, tempts us to believe we will not have to take this test. We are tempted to try to avoid not only our own suffering, but also that of our fellow human beings, the suffering of the world, which is part of our own suffering.”
Lately I’ve drawn back. You can tell by the silence on the blog. I’ve drawn in. Drawn down.
Few things scare me more than meeting new people and speaking a foreign language. That’s pretty much all I do here, in Guatemala.
And it’s been hard. So I’ve gone all in and I’ve held back. I’ve tried to connect and I’ve thwarted connection. I’ve vacillated between fear and trust, bravery and dust.
Madeleine quotes Kafka, “It may be that this very holding back is the one evil you could have avoided.”
Holding back my passion. Holding back my heart.
Scared to look like an idiot in a foreign culture. Scared to make a mistake. Scared to put myself out there and get nothing in return. Scared to say no to the men who pursue me for the wrong reasons because so few people are pursuing me at all.
I’ve always wished I was one of those people who wasn’t so scared. Who could glide into a room, any room, and make friends. But that’s not me.
I’m broken and scared. A handful of dust. A fistful of fear.
But that is not all I am. I turn my eyes to the One who drives out fear. Who has given me a name and a hope and an inheritance. Who has brought me here for a reason. Who has promised to restore joy.
God, I give you the broken pieces. I give you the fear I cling to like a handful of dust and watch it fall through the cracks. Watch it spill through my fingers, dissolve into thin air.
Remove the scales of dust from eyelids so that I may see myself as you see me, as your child, your beloved. That I may see beyond the gray clouds, the gray dust, to the fullness of your light and love and to the sun I know is shining behind.