It was at the end of a long day, all I wanted was my own bed and a hot shower. Our host encouraged us towards another house visit, to sit and listen to stories of loss, gain and strength in the midst of the greatest challenge and my eyes rolled.
I am ashamed to say the line of enough had been drawn and I knew the trip back down the mountain would be as harsh as its traverse up. I just wanted to be safe. I just wanted comfort and I was at the very end of my rope.
It has been funny this week when people have asked me about Nepal, “How was it?”, “Was it amazing?”, “Was it life changing?” and I have not had any words all week.
Zero. Nothing. Nudda.
Nepal was uncomfortable. Little electricity, long, windy, dangerous four-wheel drive trips. I had to borrow the money for the air ticket from my sister and I saved each and every dollar possible in the lead up so I could buy something small for my babes. Whilst I was standing trying time after time to get through to my husband on the phone from Kathmandu, in broken reception he told me that we needed to sell our little seaside shack. My trip was steeped in challenge.
My leg was still raw with infection, from two surgeries in a few months, the dust, the broken buildings and limited internet. Nepal was deeply uncomfortably and challenging. My little man had surgery two days after I arrived home and hasn’t slept much since. We have had home opens, real estate valuing and emptied two thirds of our belongings into storage. Two weeks back on the ground and I am still recovering. I just want to sleep away my days and forget what I saw.
Back to the beginning…
I walked down the side of a mud brick house, walking carefully through a path that winded precariously around the edge of a cliff and I sat down, crossed my arms and wanted the day to be over.
Out of the cutest little hut, came two well dressed children, with two neighbourhood children running close behind. “The visitors had arrived, the visitors had arrived.” As I sat on their rickety bench, I realised they had waited the whole day for us to come visit. The little pre- teenager, had straightened her hair with perfection and they were wearing their Sunday best.
I sat and listened about the business the Mumma had launched and peace flooded my weary soul. I sat and listened, but mostly watched. I immersed myself in their world and was spellbound. Here we were together, up the top of a mountain, I felt like I was so far away from everything that bought me comfort and I was rocked to my very core.
If she can be thankful and generous in the midst of her challenge, so can I.
If she can wake to work hard for another day, so could I.
If she can serve her family with deep, sacrificial love, then so could I.
Her story compelled me, that in the midst of pain, suffering and discomfort, we have a choice to announce peace.
How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52: 7)
I looked to the ground as I was full of shame from my lack of fortitude in the midst of courage and I saw her feet. Bruised, dusty and servant-ed. Her feet told more of the story than any part of her words could. She had an old pair of sandals, they were faded pink. Her littles sitting now beside her had simple jogging shoes, that looked well worn but quite new. However Mumma Bear, her sandals were broken and she had fixed them with a piece of string.
This simple hack broke me on the inside. I was so unsure whether my eyes and heart would ever recover.
Her thongs told me a story of sacrificial love. When I started to walk in her shoes, my heart exploded with compassion.
Today we all step into the final chapter of Lent and the Easter story, a journey of sacrifice, fortitude and community. As I woke this morning ready to retrace the steps of Jesus in his final hours, the image that rocked my soul was the image of her mountain feet.
A piece of string holding her shoe together.
As I walk the stations of the cross today, I will be remembering my mountain friend and the life of sacrifice. As a mum it is hard to imagine my life like that of Jesus, carrying a cross towards a brutal death. What I can step into though, is the life of another Mum. Her waking early to prepare the house for the day. Getting my children ready when they scream and tantrum. Walking into dusty places as I try to clean the mess of my home that seems to break my will repeatedly. We each carry a daily cross, that looks so different, but the depth of the courage required to pick it up still has the same cost.
I will remember her feet.
I will remember the dusty place.
I will remember her life of sacrifice.
Because this is the way of the cross.
I will remember, I will not forget