Paul Robinson left this morning to make his way overland to Kenya via stops in Kagando and Kampala. Before he left, David Kasali prayed for Paul's safety. He began, "We release Paul into your care..." A year ago Paul prayed and released me from a responsibility that burdened me. Last evening...
after conversation with a group of UCBC students who had come to express apologies for the way they had handled an issue, Paul prayed and released them to move forward.
What a beautiful word: release. What a beautiful image to think of releasing someone into God's care and protection. Releasing someone into renewal, forgiveness, or freedom from a burden. The complete "letting go." Opening hands and arms to allow someone to go out, fully vulnerable into the world. Releasing into God's care.
Truly, it is only God who protects and provides. We disillusion ourselves into thinking we have control, that we are the ones who can protect our children from dangers or our families from pain. We (in the west) build up savings accounts, build houses and surround them with walls, send our children to good schools "to give them a good education," buy large and "safe" cars--all with the illusion that we have the power to protect. I'm not saying that we should drive rattle-traps with no brakes and abandon fiscal responsibility. But we forget that our efforts at safety and security are like the "grass that withers." We put so much energy into what we do that we neglect to be with Emmanuel, "God with us."
Release. The word rolls around in my mind and heart today. It's also what I'm finally experiencing, after two weeks here in Beni. Release from a set of memories. Release that I didn't know I needed.
For the past two weeks a sort of dullness has shrouded each day. With the exception of conversation and laughter around the dinner table and activities that have demanded my energy, I've been dull to the beauty and glory that are Congo, UCBC, and Congo Initiative. I couldn't figure out why. Where was the amazement at the lush vegetation? Why did the charcoal fire fail to sting my nose or the red dust bless me? Where was the thrill of vision? Then it dawned on me. This time is a different time. This is not last year's visit. This is this year. Now. Everything was new to me last year. My brain was flush with endorphins. With this trip, I return to a place with which I have some--albeit, limited--familiarity.
Without realizing, I had set expectations that the newness and feelings of adventure of last year would wash over me again this year.
In a strange sort of way, I needed to be released from the past experiences and its memories. Released into this time, this visit, this set of tasks.
So, this morning, after Paul's departure, I sat outside. I just watched and listened. Listened to the clucking of our hen and the cheep-cheeping of her chicks; the call and response of the songbirds; the clanking of the pots as our mamas clean. I watched lizards as they scooted across the tiles and drank in the greens and reds of the vegetation. Most importantly, I sat with Jesus and thanked God for His creation and for this wonderful place that is Congo.
Yes, released, and now renewed.