I spent the night for the first time last week in the house on the land. A rickety ladder and no walls, but what a glorious time! I feel God closer there, for some reason. There are no distractions (yet) to be had. It is quiet there, and the breeze is always sweet over the valley, unless it's windy, then it's downright wild. Walking across the wooden bridge to Paraíso, the songs of the different frogs were captivating. One high and sweet, and the other low and explosive, as if the frogs were little boys playing a game of war. The house is the last house on the road into the forest, our plot the last plot that the city has agreed could be settled and developed and not many have come to live on their land yet. The nearest neighbors are carbon makers, and their flashlights were dancing as fireflies as they were preparing to rest for the night. I expect my flashlight marked a first point of light in the house in the black of the night as I carried my dog Máscara (the Mask in English) up the ladder to sleep. He went resignedly, for he hates to be lugged about, but I didn't want to make him sleep downstairs and was happy enough for the company upstairs.
This last week has seen its fair share of ups and downs. A family that I know only indirectly through a nephew of theirs, lost a wife and mother to a sudden illness, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of all around her. Not yet 40 years old, Anita died leaving six young girls who now will grow up without a mother's advice when they have their first boyfriend, when they walk the aisle toward the young man of their choice, and will achingly feel her absence when their first child is born. A mother leaving a son is heartbreaking enough, but a mother leaving a daughter behind is to me an unparalleled loss.
After the ceremony at the cemetery, I left hastily, having forgotten a commitment the previous day to pray for the elderly mother of another man I know. He had asked me to come pray for his mother the day before, but in the news and shock of Anita's death, the commitment had slipped my mind, and repentantly I hurried to fulfill the missed appointment. I arrived to find her son out fishing and so went alone, only to hear that her body is now rejecting the IV she's been on for months. Her time is short and her son was worrying to me the day before that he's not sure she's made her peace with God. Unable to speak, her communication is limited to nods and head shakes, but after praying with her, I dearly hope that in her nearest thoughts, God and her have made peace and she is able to go trustingly.
After the dismay of these two gut-wrenchers, I returned to the son's house to find his wife also feeling unwell and disheartened with a long bout of on-and-off-again sickness that has left the doctors confounded and herself despairing. We prayed together also, and it was such a welcome relief to see how God lifted her spirits and took away her bodily affliction. She was in a much better state when I left her, and again when I saw her the next day she was completely well, for which I am still so very grateful to God and thankful for the way He allows us to minister with Him. I wish I understood why in some cases He choses to heal, and in others He doesn't, but I am inexpressibly grateful for the times He does.
I confess this week also that I have been feeling reclusive, glad that the children on the street are in school in the mornings and desiring to shut myself in my house until the heat becomes too oppressive, then glad enough to escape to the internet or to my hammock downstairs. Partly due to a nasty cold, and partly because there seem to be patches of time where I don't feel like I have either the oomph or the inclination to continue pouring out into the lives of my neighbors and those who cross my path. So I try to close off the path, keeping myself out of others' way as much as possible, God forgive me. The continual need around me, the repeated asking for money on almost a daily basis wears on me and my reserves of patience and love run out much faster than I would like. How did Jesus do this, I wonder? I know the answer comes from a continuous connection to the heart of the Father: that well of love and compassion that never runs dry, as well as the source of all wisdom that knows when to feed the thousands, and when to tell them that it's an “evil and adulterous generation (that) seeks a sign” (Matt 16:4), sending them discontentedly on their way. Sigh. I have so far yet to go, may God have patience with me and not abandon His work in me! May I learn the full meaning and experience the live truth of Psalms 87:7 “...all my springs are in you.”