Sokoya, I said looking through the net of wrinkles into wise black pools of her eyes. What do you say in Athabascan when you leave each other? What is the word for goodbye? A shade of feeling rippled the wind- tanned skin, Ah, nothing, she said, watching the river flash. She looked at me close. We just say Tlaa. That means, See you.
We never leave each other.
When does your mouth
say goodbye to your heart? She touched me light as a bluebell. You forget when you leave us; you're so small then. We don't use that word. We always think you're coming back, but if you don't we'll see you someplace else. You understand. There is no word for goodbye.
- Mary TallMountain
Rain taps the windows and splashes onto worn concrete on the other side of the door. Heat puurs from the ancient kitchen stove.
Thousands of miles away and a mere two hours ahead of N. Ireland time, Katie's family is asleep. Friends closer than family are hours behind with a group of Tanzanian Maasai touring Canada and the US to raise money for schooling that will save their culture.
Even in the cold, I can feel the gold of the heat. The sun I haven't seen in weeks, it can beat down on my face in the darkest of rainy nights. This winter will be three years since I stepped into the heady, black enveloping heat with half a plane full of strangers my age. None of us knew what we would encounter, how we could make each other laugh. I don't think any of us expected how those three months by the Little Ruaha River would weave our lives together and cause some of us to surrender our hearts to the depths of the "dark continent". It is one year, two months, and ten days since I flew above the purple-fuschia clouds bathing in at the morning gold at feet of Kilimanjaro- tears spilling freely.
I think there are some people in this world whom you may never meet in this life because we all have our own work to do and it wouldn't be practical for the same hearts and purposes to be fulfilled in the same place so God spreads us out. Like the crunchy spots in crunchy peanut butter (which is far superior to smooth, by the way), it's better for the crunch to be all over for a great PB&J.
Though I may never meet Katie, my own heart sings for the life lived by example. Whether or not you believe in God (or do but don't know Him), you have to admit, she's living what the Bible says and what she believes. She might seem arrogant, but certainty is often mistaken for arrogance.