It’s almost midnight and the cars are packed tightly near the terminal, waiting for the last arrivals on this steamy July night in Louisville. I’m picking up our intrepid travelers, Roy, Carrie and Robert, from their trip to Morocco. Almost as soon as they settle in for the ride home from the airport, the stories begin. Their minds are teeming with images and impressions, their hearts full and tender. I listen as they tell of people and places, old friends and new ones, the delight and sadness of being with the refugees.
We arrive home and Robert is grateful for cool air, familiar surroundings and smells, his own comfortable bed. Through his exhaustion, he struggles to put words, thoughts and feelings together. Sleep comes quickly and easily.
We awaken and I am eager to see the pictures. They tell the story in vibrant, living color . . . beautiful, dark skinned mothers and daughters working on jewelry together, babies and children held affectionately in white arms . . . towering minarets, crowded markets and once picturesque churches . . . prickly cacti in the desert near Oujda and smooth olives in the Fes medina. These prompt still more stories, but work and daily routines beckon. We look forward to the evening to be able to dive back in.
For now, the image most clearly etched in my mind is a sorrowful, poignant painting by Meiisa, one of the refugees who participated in our workshops last week. A man’s face is superimposed on the tri-colored continent of Africa, tears streaming tellingly from his eyes, forming a grief-filled pool below. I think of the Jesus prayer we often recite and live into at Highland, that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven. And I pray for Meiisa and those like him in such desperate circumstances, that indeed they will not have to wait until heaven before “God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” For this deep Mercy, we pray and work and love!