Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I wrote this on my way to Rwanda. I was so weary that I couldn't sleep. I was getting used to keeping up with a writer's notebook and watching the people around me - anxious in anticipation for what I was about to experience. This was originally published on Sunday, September 2nd 2007.

Beautiful People

Rwandan children in Ntarama

Heidi. I am so weary from lack of sleep. It’s Saturday 5:00 PM. No sleep since Thursday night/Friday morning. I guess it’s 11:00 AM your time. Every time I look at my watch I think of you. I wonder what you are doing – what you might be dreaming of. We are still on the plane but we must be getting close by now.

In the airport in Belgium I know that you would have enjoyed watching all the people. Seeing thousands of faces (Charlotte, New York City, Brussels) always makes me marvel at how wonderfully unique we are. No two people are alike. Incredible. God. When I look into all of these beautiful faces I miss your face. Sometimes I’ll see someone from behind with hair that looks like yours or who walks like you or I’ll hear a snatch of laughter that sounds like you. Then you come swimming back to me. And I am grateful. Seated at the gate in Brussels we were with everyone going to Rwanda. Beautiful people. Exotic to me. So many have a look similar to Immaculee. Dark, beautiful smiles. I know that you would recognize their beauty. The God in them.

On the plane a little one has had a hard flight. She has cried a lot and whined a lot. Some of the grown ups around her can hardly stand it. You can see it on their faces. Her beautiful mom just hugs her and sings to her and rocks her. And it makes me think of you because you would recognize the beauty in the mom’s kindness, in their love for each other. You hear music in babies’ cries. The God in them.

A Rwandan child with lovely elaborate braids is asleep on the fold down table. Peaceful. Serene. Two Belgian guys are walking down the aisle. Older guys. One stops for a moment and takes in the breathtaking beauty of this innocent little scene. One nudges the other drawing his attention. They both stare at her. Just for a few seconds and then move on. You would have appreciated that little moment. That Godness.

In the airport all announcements were in French, English and some other language (German?). The people who work there are so adept at subtly seeking your language before talking to you. I think French is the default language but they switch over so fast. Incredible to me. Cindy got me a bottle of water so when we got coffee, I bought. $4.00 for water. $4.00 for coffee.

I think of you when I read words put together well or when I hear laughter, when I hear a baby cry or see an old man’s wrinkled smile. Because you would appreciate these things too. I see the world partly through your eyes. And my life is better because of it.


Travis said...

How beautiful...we would all do better to share thoughts like these with our wives!

Kelly said...

This proves that in spite of your thoughts to the contrary, you really are Atticus Finch. Ever since I was little, I've wanted to go to Africa; it always seemed like such a wild, beautiful place. Now, after reading your posts about Rwanda, I think it would be even more exciting to know the people.