We leave Entebbe just as the sun sets, a dome of light wrapping itself over us, turning all things to gold. I’m trying to find the gifts in our 24 hour delay getting home. This is a small one, this burst of light as we prepare to leave Uganda, reminding me of the hope we have seen, urging me not to forget.I don’t remember much about that plane ride from Entebbe to Amsterdam – only our first drink with ice in a week, the back of the plane with my sister, a movie I fell asleep watching. We land in Amsterdam while it’s still dark, find a Starbucks first thing, and spend a few hours waiting for our next flight to the States. As we wait, the morning sun erupts behind us in the sky over The Netherlands, ever faithful to come back no matter how far we travel.
The traveling pushes hard into us, dumb things are funny, funny things are lost. We wait and prepare for the longest leg of our trip, trade Imodium and Tums and sticks of gum. Laughter comes easily. So does sleep.
I watch four movies on the way home, eat everything they bring me. I think I fell asleep with my mouth open a few times, witnessed by the young moustached man beside me who is smirking as he wakes me up. I hate everything for half a second and then I remember I don’t really care.
We arrive in Atlanta in the afternoon and I have only enough time to make it through customs and run to my gate to board the final leg of the trip – one more hour til home. We land as the morning Amsterdam sun sets in the evening over Greensboro, and I marvel at this one sky I’ve traveled within and live beneath.
One sky for all of us.
As I ride home in the car with my family so near, I remember the words of Richmond, a graduate of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. These LDP students are ones who have distinguished themselves in the Child Sponsorship Program through service, academic excellence, and leadership. The program is highly competitive and only a handful are selected per country. When selected, these students have the opportunity to refine their skills through a university education. Richmond is a graduate of the Leadership Development Program and is now receiving his Ph.D.
As we listened to Richmond’s story during our last day in Uganda, one thing he said I will never forget: I don’t understand how great wealth and deep poverty all happen under the same sky.
I come home a full 32 hours since we first arrived to the airport in Entebbe and it’s Super Bowl Sunday. The game had just started so I take a quick shower and come downstairs, planning to watch with John and the kids.
My daughter sits next to me eating an ice cream sandwich. I watch her lick around the edges before she takes a bite, close my eyes for just a moment. When I open them again the room is dark and empty and I am alone.
It is 3 am and I have been asleep for eight and a half hours.
The next morning, John tells he tried to wake me up around nine last night, even shook my shoulders a bit to see if I wanted to come up to bed. I didn’t move at all. So after he checked to be sure I was breathing, he went up without me.
Home had done her good work: released the tension, softened the senses, opened arms wide for rest and comfort
This morning on my second full day back from Uganda, I sit in my living room alone, gray sky overhead. I shower, dress, put on my shoes.
I call my sister to ask her what I should do today. I needed a little recalibration, a reminder how to be a person in my own life.
We talk for only about 10 minutes and she reminds me of things I need to remember. We speak of Rose who fights for everything she has. If she had more, she would give more. I think of all I have and I don’t feel guilty about it. At least not right now.
I have much and I feel thankful because the much I have can be turned into enough for others.
Richmond is right, we are all under the same sky. But we are not the same. We are all human with the need for love, worth, acceptance, and security. But we are different because while some of us are full, others are hungry. While some of us are safe, others are unsafe. While some of us have choices, others have no choice.
What can we do for those who are hungry, unsafe, and without choice?
Today, under the sky in Greensboro, I take my work seriously – both the small movements within my home and among my family and the public words I write for you. I can open my eyes to the right-here poverty while at the same time, sponsor children in the over-there poverty.
I have seen how child sponsorship through Compassion provides food, safety, and choice. It is one way to make a big difference, to bring a little equilibrium under the sky.
I do not have to choose to help here or there. I can choose both here and there – because I have enough and can share with others.
Do you have enough to share?
Sponsor a child under the Ugandan sky, one who wakes with the same sun as you do. And care for your neighbor within your same time zone, because you can and she needs the help you have to offer.
And when you find yourself in need, either lost in grief, overwhelmed with sadness, or sitting in aftermath of your own personal tragedy, be wise enough to receive the help from others as if it comes from the heart of Christ, because it does. He wants to comfort you in your time of distress, to be present with you as you walk through the darkness, and to be your enough in the midst of your not enough.
We have been given much and we can give much. This is a gift, a joy, and a privilege. Sponsor a child today?
“We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Here and Now