And now here is the real story. I felt so guilty about even going to Ile aux Nattes. I have never gotten over generous Walter Gordon raising money for me to buy that desperately needed scooter and I only drove it less than a year. I really intended to stay longer. It just didn’t work out that way. I gave it to Ruth and she needed it desperately too, but I always felt I should have stayed. I still feel I should have stayed and that is why I am on this journey. That is why I am going back, to show myself it was okay to leave. I knew I had worked myself out of my jobs there and my work was done, but it all seemed so abrupt. And now I feel guilty for going to an island when I should be creating jobs, helping others, wiping noses in the orphanage. But I went to an island because the opportunity arose and Chris and Dawn insisted I could not miss this paradise. They were so sweet about it. “Chance of a lifetime.” So I go.
I remember when the beach was more than a sanctuary. I lived across the street from the beach in Mozambique and I could go there and hear God. Every single time. The beach is the main reason I fell in love with Mozambique in the first place. It is breathtaking there. I could hear God in the waves. The act of my sitting cross legged and staring at the sea initiated an endless monologue from the Father. I went there for answers and He didn’t stop talking. I could see rooms with chintz wallpaper, decorative mantles and he told me He had prepared places for me to dwell. I saw dark haired babies in bassinets and knew they belonged to me. He occupied each room and the front porch swing swayed in His presence. I was always barefooted and working and moving about. He told me He held me, in simplicity and in peace. A lot like that twin iron bed in Angelique’s cabin with a picture of Jesus hanging on a pine wall. I could nestle in there any time I wanted. He sees me. He is watching. I am dust. He knows my frame and that I love chintz. But our dwelling together is easy, and I have a purpose and laundry to hang on the line. He tells me He loves me and I wave Him away, dinner to make, hair to braid, babies to feed. I breathe Him in and out. I went there for an exchange, to give my worries and get His peace. I always left wondering if anyone else could see the glow.
But this time He doesn’t speak. Deafening silence. I stir in it. I don’t hear squat. I’ve been promised provision and babies and I sit on an island close to broke and very close to 40 and I hear nothing. I sit on an island where couples honeymoon and I sleep in a bed alone minus the bedbugs and the spider and the lemur on the roof. And He is silent.
I see intense poverty and crazy ritualistic animal sacrifice sites and He has nothing to say to me about any of it. I am even open to the idea that He is okay with it all, but I don’t hear that either. Is there a level of poverty that is okay? I’ve asked that a zillion times. Access to healthcare, food, clean water, education. I can see how this little island works; they have food, they seem happy, what do they really need? How do you even define poverty? Is this little island floating along just fine? He says nothing. No chintz, no furniture, no nothing.
I am on one of the most beautiful islands on the planet, inhabited by lemurs and alone. Alone to hear His voice and seek His face and get answers to questions and I hear lemur squawks. I cannot calm my head from all the noise to hear Someone Else think. I cannot seem to enter hallowed silence.
And all I can see is inescapable poverty. I hate it. I hate more that I want to look the other way. It used to move me to do something. And now the girls selling their sweet oils do not even get my attention. We don’t smile or exchange names. I shake my head and I ignore them. I don’t want to be bothered despite no one else to talk to. And I don’t want to buy their massage oils because they will see the fat white thighs of a girl who has never gone hungry, I have no one to massage and so little money myself. They don’t need my pity or my sympathy. And then He speaks. “I am the Savior.” I already know where He is going with this. All about how He died on the cross so I didn’t have to and how deeply He loves the poor and the marginalized and He provides for them as He does for me. But he doesn’t preach. I simply hear, “Not your circus, not your monkeys.”
You don’t need me to come and give all I have to offer and work tirelessly to fill a need so vast? I can just come and sit and enjoy all the creatures of my God and King? And I have no job or clue about the future. I am completely empty handed and I just have a few plane tickets to a few places and I only have those because I think I heard you tell me to buy them. And I could have been wrong about that. And I have no clue how to pay for the future or find work or where I will live. This is my circus and these are my monkeys!
Ugh! Why does He always answer a question by asking a question?
And now I am on an exquisite island, a dream vacation for anyone, questioning God’s provision but fully aware of it, lapping at my toes. And the silence becomes holy and sweet and full of His presence. And I open my hands in complete surrender and give Him my circus and my monkeys.