Once upon a time, the prophet Moses asked to see God’s glory. God told him that no one on earth could see His face and live. Instead:
God said “Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back. But you won’t see my face.”
… God descended in the cloud and took up his position there beside him and called out the name, God. God passed in front of him … At once, Moses fell to the ground and worshiped, saying, “Please, O Master, if you see anything good in me, please Master, travel with us, hard-headed as these people are. Forgive our iniquity and sin. Own us, possess us.”
I came home in the wee sma’s of Saturday morning. Brian was waiting for me at the Vancouver airport, nearly 25 hours after I left Haiti. I clung to him, and I wept a little, and we drove home through the darkness, I talked steady and quiet. The tinies made a banner to welcome me home, the countdown on our kitchen chalkboard was down to a triumphant “0 Days Until Mum Comes Home.” Anne woke up and sleepily came to the kitchen, I snatched her into my arms and the torrent was released, I sobbed. I went to Joseph, and lifted him out of his bed, I pulled Evelynn from her crib, and I held my children in my arms and cried.
I stank. I stank like sweat, and travel, and Haiti, so I stripped off my clothes and then I doubled over in my walk-in closet, and started to sob all over again. Brian asked me what was wrong, if I was having a hard time with all of our beautiful home, and all I could say was, “I’m just so glad to be out of there. I’m so glad to be home.”
I had a very long, very hot shower. I shaved my legs at 2 in the morning. I put on my perfume. Then I went to bed with the window wide open so I could hear the rain and the room became very cold.
On Saturday, I made mashed potatoes and pot roast, I drank tea, I did crafts, I went to a garage sale. And the whole time, I carried Haiti in my heart, and I felt like a temple. I still can’t talk about what I learned about child trafficking.
I feel like I saw the back of God last week, and I cannot bear it, the glory of God in Haiti was too much for me. The last time I felt this close to the glory of God was while I was giving birth to my tines; that collusion of pain and suffering and joy and release and life. It’s similar for some reason, and I don’t know why. Right now, I feel like I did after giving birth: “I’ll never do THAT again.”
I simultaneously hated Haiti, and I loved it. I never want to go back, and I cannot wait to go back. I want to forget the orphanage and the child trafficking and the smell of tent city, and the phrase “rape camp” and yet I keep falling to me knees, because, I saw God there, I did.
I came a bit too close to God down by the equator, and I feel safer here, in my nice home with my stocked freezer, listening to the rain falling steady.
It’s a relief; a relief to be able to insulate from the wild goodness of God I saw in Haiti, and this tame God I know here is easier to manage. I need a bit of space, I need to catch my breath, I need to fall to the ground and beg God to travel with me. And I need to wake up tomorrow, and pack a lunch for my eldest daughter’s school day, and I need to write my book, and I need to fold the laundry.
I need God to cover me with his hand again, and let me catch my breath in the cleft of the rock for a bit. That sight of his back was a bit too much for me to handle.
Bible verses from Exodus 33 & 34, The Message. Photo by Scott Wade.