i was going on a walk anyway. i needed to get out and maybe the baby would fall asleep finally in the stroller.
i would do my regular course towards the school.
i would pass by the pathway going directly to the school and try to ignore it. no, it makes me nervous...i don't know anyone. people will judge me for my jankety stroller with the weird wheel. everyone has all the newest and best here.
but i would stop and turn around. i would decide that maybe i could catch lila's class on the track. a moment of bravery that was unlike me. and at best, not of me.
i saw lila's teacher coming up the trail off the track, colliding serendipitously with mine as i walked up the hill. i couldn't see lila in the crowd of children and parents and began to feel a bit of panic reach my cheeks. where is she. and why am i the only parent that didn't show up?
and then whatever angst was in my cheeks sank deep into my heart when i saw her at the very end of the group. there she was, hidden behind a mother and father holding their little girl's hand, as she teetered between them. those three towering like a visible gate. you don't belong here.
i wanted to burst into tears. the sleepless nights. all the changes. the inability to do anything right or on time--it had all softened me to an embarrassing level.
mom! skipping and with a smile, she saw me.
hi, baby. how was your walk?
fun. i walk. fun!
my head was spinning. i was thinking of how we don't fit in here. i saw the crowd of kids and parents ahead of us on the hill with balloons and music and celebration. except i was at a funeral of all the things we lost when we moved from her safe preschool where everyone was different and our safe church where we knew everyone and our safe neighborhood in the city where we belonged.
we walked up on the hill of people and no one talked to us. mom's grouped together in circles like cages.
ignored, we chatted with ourselves. and my voice wavering a little i said, lila. i love you.
i luh you, mom.
the teacher gathered some girls to take a picture. lila, come over!
and lila was stuck in the middle of the group without the fundraising tshirt on that everyone had on. and sandals. and purple pants.
of course. of course! if ever i needed a visual picture of my life, there it is. we don't fit in...got it.
when they were done, i talked with the little girls. hell, if none of the adults would talk to me, i'll talk to the children. i tried to explain to them that lila didn't have a lot of words but that she still loves friends. she's different. it's ok to notice that about her.
and then the teacher hollered for the kids and they all left.
ok, go with them, lila. when all i really wanted to do was gather her up and go home where it was safe.
she ran to meet the group and i turned around to walk home. a mom i had seen in the pick up line passed me.
and the words, HEY! i don't think i've met you yet, flew out of my mouth as if by accident. i immediately wanted them back. what am i doing?
her accent was different and thick. we exchanged names, talked about our kids for a good while. i told her about lila. she doesn't really fit in, everythings new for all of us.
and she lunged at me with a hug. i'm so sorry. that is very hard. i came here with no english. i know this feeling.
we exchanged a few stories of not belonging and moving to a new place...a few snippets about our lives and then we exchanged phone numbers.
it was the colliding of two misfits and it was beautiful and redeeming.
i walked away in a blur of the strange and painful morning that was laced with beauty. i thought of lila in the back of the line and could feel my wind hit my wet eyes.
i thought of how she didn't seem to notice that she was an outcast and i pictured Jesus holding her hand in the back of the line, laughing and looking down at her.
later as i stood washing dishes at the sink feeling sad again, i smelled that woman's perfume lingering on me from our hug. the fragrance of acceptance swirled around me and i remembered lila and Jesus at the back of the line together.
for her and for me. he is holding us both.
that friendship is all i need to know. let me smell that fragrance every day.
i thought about how He knows how it feels to be an outcast, even in his own town. like me. i grew up in these very suburbs, and now i have no place here.
i thought about how He sympathized with her and me because he was rejected to the highest degree possible so that we would not be rejected before God. He knows because he lived it.
he had already walked a mile in lila's shoes that day and mine too, when he went to the cross all those years ago.
and so from his bravery, i will face this year. resting on all of his courage and none of mine.