Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Limbo

I awoke this morning to the sound of a hammer pounding somewhere in the distance. For a moment, I wracked my mind for an idea of which patient might have died. Then, it slowly dawned upon me: It wasn't a coffin being slapped together in the morgue next to our house. I wasn't in Gimbie. I was in Maine, and I was listening to my father-in-law tinker around in his workshop.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, cozily watching the falling snow out the window. My eyes lighted on an oddly-shaped object high up in one of the pine trees. For a moment, I craned my neck to see whether or not the monkey was carrying a baby. Then, it dawned upon me: It wasn't a colobus high up in the tree. It was the stump from a black branch, dusted with white snow.

Much of my life has been spent in limbo between cultures. Pausing at intervals to re-align my brain to the changed environment is nothing new. But it doesn't make it any easier. It's hard to peel a banana, expecting a delicious sweet taste, and be met with Costa Rican cardboard. It's hard to begin a hospital narrative to a group of friends, and have to include so many explanations and descriptions. It's hard to be surrounded by such affluence.

But, no matter how hard it is, it's worth it. It's totally worth it. The joy on my mother's face when I give her a hug - in person - is worth all the culture shock. The joy on the faces of the hospital staff when I return to Ethiopia will be worth it too. Praise God for cultures. Praise God for people. Praise God for an ever-broadening world view.