The sun is setting over the tourist town of San Miguel De Allende. The distant sound of church bells chimes and tells everyone that it is 7 pm. It’s time to find your favorite taco stand or overpriced Italian restaurant. The food is better than Juarez… but only just. I still miss the tortas stand with all of the stray dogs that hung around looking for scraps. Their turkey tail avocado sandwich was something to write home about.
The sun is orange and brilliant tonight. Blue and grey clouds try their best to stifle the brilliant light, but they are only making it more beautiful. The orange light makes the ancient steeples look more archaic and noble. The shallow lake at the edge of town mirrors the light and it looks almost as if it’s on fire. This is quite the change from Juarez.
I miss Juarez.
The older I get the more I am convinced that there is beauty wherever you look. Trash heap? Look closer and find the rogue flower growing in the midst of utter filth. Desert? Wait for the sunset. In the middle of the ocean? Wait for the flying fish. Juarez? Just look at the people.
Dumbly, like a confident 16 year old in the middle of an argument, I said to my wife a few months ago, “The hardest part of our journey is going to be loving the people and then leaving them.”
You were right, Ben.
I don’t want to be right anymore.
I was holding it together pretty well until the moment when we had to say goodbye to the kids. Two months with the same little (and not so little) ones. We were at the rather impressive children’s museum in Chihuahua and all of the kids were sitting in a giant oval with a blue ice chest and a small table in the middle. The table had six loaves of cheap generic Soriana Super bread on it. The kids were worn out and hungry. 43 pairs of eyes glued to the bags of bread.
“Is it time?” my wife asked me, sadness in her eyes.
“I guess so,” I said, turning to look at each of them again. I tapped the owner of the orphanage on the shoulder, “Kristin, it’s time. We have to go.”
“Ninos!” she yelled to the kids. Most of the kids turned to look at her. She explained quickly that Ben-ha-meen and Eh-ste-fan-ee were leaving.
Fifteen or twenty little bodies shot up out of their chairs and surrounded us.
“Thank you for the food,” Jenny said, tears in her eyes.
“Be careful!” little Chuy said, with his serious face, pausing to point at Estefanie.
Hugs and hugs and hugs.
I lost it. I started sobbing. Sure, let’s just leave this giant family that accepted us with opened arms and no questions asked. Let’s just hop in a bus and hope that we can love as fervently as we did here. That’s not asking for much, right? Asking to feel more love than you’ve felt in years, that’s something that comes along every day, isn’t it?
Te quiero. Te amo. Te extrano.
Loaded down with all of our earthly possessions (which always seems like too much when you have them on your back) we walked away from the hungry group. Most of their eyes went back to the table where their sandwiches were being made, but a few followed us up the stairs. I waved and smiled through my tears.
It feels nice to belong and be depended on. It’s like putting on sweats that just got out of the drier. It’s like getting a hug from someone you haven’t seen in a few lifetimes.
The sky is turning from blue to navy and the stairs are getting ready to wake up. It’s their job to govern the night and tonight it doesn’t look like the clouds will give them any help. The church bells are ringing again. In their strange code they are telling everyone that it is 8 pm. I guess I missed dinner.
I’ll go to bed tonight thanking God for the opportunity to invest in so many lives so quickly and I’ll pray for the time when I can go back to that little sandy city and steal a few more hugs.
Until next time,
Lose your life!
“Wake up, wake up, O LORD! Clothe yourself with strength! Flex your mighty right arm! Rouse yourself as in the days of old when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile. Are you not the same today, the one who dried up the sea, making a path of escape through the depths so that your people could cross over? Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”