I notice the mud on the back of my shoes. I notice how they do not even notice. It was home. It was what they lived and breathed. We walked along the muddy trail…winding through the Asian thickness of tangled trees, huge palm leaves, and then…a small, squatter home here…and there…a struggling fire waiting for someone’s dinner…clothes, always clothes, never-ending clothes hanging out to dry. Home.
The children run up behind me, laughing and giggling…hoping I’ll snap another picture of them, and let them see the magic of themselves on the camera screen afterwards. They come close, eagerly accepting hugs, giving high-fives…wanting another picture. Who can resist those dark eyes and broad white smiles shining forth from their dark faces? Can a thousand pictures ever capture their beauty?
We walk through their poverty…their mud…their home. My eyes strain to see more, to travel down into the dark alleys and tin-covered shanties…my guide tells me we cannot walk through; it might not be safe. But my thoughts continue to travel where my feet cannot go. I try to imagine this as home. What must that be like?
As before, a thought returns: What if He called me to call this home? What if He wanted me to live here to share His presence and love with these beloved ones? Of course, Yes! I answer far too quickly…”Yes, Lord, I would go!” It’s easy to answer when it’s not even a dim reality.
And the second thought also returns…It was a reality. He did leave His perfectly clean, perfectly perfect glories upon glories…turned His face away…left His riches…slipped on our dirty skin that cracks, bleeds…bones and body that ache…tangled hair…tiny stones in the food…friends that kiss and betray… He bent over and entered our shanty world. Our home.
We walk on down the muddy hill…past curious faces…the little ones always bouncing at our sides…more pictures…and back into the orphanage. We sing some songs, share more hugs, and read stories with the least of these, who like our Master, had no place to call home.
Then we drive home. Beautiful big clean home. We shower. Dirt flows down into the drain. We thank God for our blessings. We climb into clean sheets.
And somehow, I know I am richer. They in their poverty are so wealthy; having nothing to offer, they have given so much. And I see my own poverty…having everything to offer, I have given so little. We are but dust on this muddy sod.
It all finds meaning in You. Thank you for calling this home. Thank you for making Your home in the shanty of my heart.