3 April 2014

the holy dare [5 years in cambodia]

christmas card 2013
[amanda, daniel, cedar & ezra: cameron highlands, malaysia 2013 
photo by steve chee]

here is our (very belated!) christmas card + some thoughts from last fall, as we wrapped up our fifth year in cambodia.  sometimes its hard to separate out how much of what we're learning is just the natural course of "growing up", trying to hold tight to what we've known to be true - to all the right & beautiful things we've known, while witnessing the brokenness everywhere.  these lessons are not unique to cambodia, but our context here has helped bring these lessons to light for us here, in this place, in this year.

Our fifth year here has flown by - with such joy & also such sadness.

Last year, I asked for prayers that this year we would have eyes to really see & that we would have perspective to Be.Here.Now.

As it turns out, some prayers are soul scorching.

As the year unfolded, more often than not, the seeing felt like a dare.  Were we brave enough to look into the eyes of the old woman begging at our ankles, as we traveled festively to the Christmas dinner?  Would we watch the mentally disabled young man wandering the streets outside our office every day - look & not quickly glance away in discomfort?  Watch the videos, the too-gory-for-our-sheltered-eyes photos of young people, the ones who make our very clothes, bleeding in the streets in pools of rage & shattered hopes?  Know that we were here, but not there? Look & see all the times we couldn't stop anything.

Would we see & see & keep seeing?  Open our hearts to all the ways the world is bitterly cruel & tragically unsafe?

& at the same time, proclaim (in broken whispers, nothing more) that God is Good.  God is Love.  Because of his Love we are Not Consumed.  Did we dare to do that?

Lamentation 3:22-23

the 5+ years of absorbing tragedies, the Seeing has left our eyes scorched.  The world will never be the same wide, adventurous invitation again.  bursting with beauty & wonder - yes! (emphatically yes, we have known much, much more than our share of this goodness this year) but also lined with betrayal & a darkness that often feels unquenchable.

And somewhere in the midst of all this seeing , I found myself watching as a tiny body - born, but not to life - entered the flames.  And as his parents melted in grief, the only prayer any of us could muster was a pleading "Be.Here.Now".  In my request at this year's beginning, I had envisioned those words, that prayer, as a triumphant call to find joy in the moment. (And this year has held such glory for us - new words, first steps, travels, dance-filled bluegrass shows, overwhelming fellowship & love beyond what we ever could have asked)

first steps [ezra sparrow]
[first steps for ezzie: kep, winter 2014
photo by steve chee]

And yet, this year the prayer was also turned, flipped right upside down into a unrelenting call for Divine Accompaniment - repeated over & over for days (maybe a lifetime?) on end.
Immanuel - God.With.Us. the only answer to Job's dilemma & ours & the whole wide world's.

And so I come to the end of this year with palms (at times begrudgingly) open - thankful for the sacredness that filled a year's worth of spaces & walking on in that Promised Presence.

Come what may.


Olivia said...

Amanda & Daniel,
It sounds like you went through some very hard things this year. We also had a little one that did not make it before Micah. Keeping you in my thoughts & sending my love. -Olivia

Anonymous said...

Empathy is such a treasure on Earth- to meet and to be met through both joy and sorrow. Love you!