The other night, walking home from the sediu, someone passing me on the sidewalk grabbed my arm, holding it for less than a second, the way you'd escort someone. I can still feel his hand. He didn't stop--I turned to look at him, hands to my bag even before my mind made it around to the possibility of having been pick-pocketed. I thought, maybe I knew him, maybe he knew me, but it was too dark and neither of us stopped, just the quiet, a head full of questions.
In Albania, the sea. It's the first time I've seen any body of water bigger than the 'lake' at Herastrau in Bucuresti since I left the States thirteen months ago. I told the people I drove with that I'd probably cry when we got close enough to smell the salt in the air. I didn't, but standing next to the water, listening to sound of it moving, I was afraid for a few seconds. It's not even the sea there, it's a bay, the water lapping against the rocks like bathwater. But it sounded so big.
Growing up around the ocean you take for granted how powerful and vast it is. One of my earliest memories is being tossed inside a breaker when I was around three. I've swum in the ocean at night, stood at the edge of it and listened to a hurricane coming in. But standing there two weeks ago listening to the gentle sloshing, hearing that sound for the first time in over a year, I was reminded of just how mighty it is, how it could swallow me up in a second. I am grateful for this, for the things that help me understand the fear of the Lord.
Hymns, lately. Like this one. And an album called "Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])" with songs like this, this and this. That last one, walking down the hill I live on, Spring in the sky and whispering in the air, I will come, I am coming. "Hosanna we are found!" Face turned up, blue swath of sky and the branches of a tree still waiting to bloom reaching upward anyway. We are found! And it is good. Thankful to be alive and singing it out.
There's a old man who begs outside of my bloc. His right eye is the faded blue something turns after being bleached by the sun. The left one has a cataract, milky white. I think about him a lot, wonder if I'll ever have the courage to sit down next to him and ask him about his life. Both his legs are amputated nearly at the hip, and once after giving him a leu or two, my roommate told me not to, that someone else was probably making him sit out there and beg and taking the money from him afterward. And then a few days later I saw an old lady wheeling him away across the street in a wheelchair. What's his name? I wonder. Does he have kids? Did he ever run with them in the front yard, in a park, toss them into the air? Or maybe he was an alcoholic. Maybe the old woman was his wife and they never had any. What would he say if someone listened to him--or would he say anything?
Two weeks ago I listened to someone playing the harmonica standing next to the Bay of Vlore. The sun was going down so it was too dark to see who it was, but it was someone from our group. Earlier that day I got asked what the desire of my life is, and then a week later in a stuffy hot room on a stuffy couch someone else asked me the same question. I think of that music, a harmonica bringing me back home, drinking tea in the cold and wandering among the people there, wondering about the answer. Praying for it, and hoping, too. Something I want so much, something God has been showing me pieces of these last thirteen months. It's so different than anything I ever saw growing up, really seeing it for the first time here. Good and hard and giving testimony to him in every bit of it.
But even if I only ever end up hoping, watching, in this moment there's this, seeing the pieces start to fit:
My cup, it can't contain all of your glory, your glory
Hosanna we are found after all you are
Holy, oh holy
Holy, holy, holy