There are those moments I wish I could have taken a hidden video recording.
This particular day in Uganda the video would have shown myself with hat on my head, water bottle in hand, and my smaller backpack on my back, simply standing, and being watched, stared at, observed. I’m not sure what to call it.
Have you ever climbed a hill or mountain, or stood looking around at the scenery, well this was me that day. I too just stood there, taking in the sights of the soccer game going on nearby, of the traffic on the one-lane road nearby, and of whatever I could amuse myself with.
But unlike that experience of climbing a mountain and beholding a view alone or with a few companions, this day I beheld my views with an audience. For in an almost complete circle around me, were about fifty people.
Mostly children and teens, but adults also, they gathered, and stood, and looked, at me.
And there we all stayed for some 45 minutes.
The nurse was busy distributing medications to those who were in need, and so there were many around him. Pastor Kakuba was busy chatting to those who were around him.
And there I was, with even more around me. Though we did not have the luxury of a task at hand like the nurse. Nor did we have the luxury of a shared language or culture and therefore something to talk about like Pastor Kakuba.
No, we just all stood there. Now I did shake some hands, smiled lots of smiles, jostled with the boys as they dared each other to shake my hand.
But one can only smile at the same people for so long, greetings are meant for greetings, not 45 minute greet-fests. And so we did simply fall into silence for some minutes. I watching the soccer game, looking down the road, taking in whatever I could manage to find interest in.
And they continued to stand and stare.
And in those minutes, with time to think, I recalled how throughout my entire life I have always been stared at. (I don’t know if I really have always been stared at, but my experience of life and how it feels to me is that I have always been watched and looked at.) And there I was, in Uganda, in a remote village, the center of attention, with little to do but stand there and simply be the center of silent staring.
With stark recollection I realized how I had been prepared for that moment (and many more like them) my whole life. How I had been groomed so to speak, to receive the frank stares of others. For it did not bother me, having everyone round about staring. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, or claustrophobic or irritated.
I was simply glad to be there, they were glad to stare, and we got along famously.
After some time of the silence and the standing, I would feel the odd finger on my hair, as one of the gals reached out to see what my hair felt like. I turned, smiled, offered my head even more for her to touch, and then touched her hair. A funny exchange in many ways, but rapport and camaraderie that worked and warmed my heart.
Or the finger along my arm, feeling the ‘white’ to find of course, that it feels no different than their brown. And I was struck with how prepared I was for this kind of attention. How normal it actually felt to me, and how it didn’t bother me in the least.
A simple thing perhaps, this being okay with being stared at, but to me it is so much bigger than that. For as I have traveled to Africa there have been many many little things that I clearly recognize as small preparations and grooming to enter into this work; the freedom to be stared at just one of them.
The point is this. God does not call us into something without our being made ready for it. Our lives are in many ways like an orchestra, with years of numerous parts and some seemingly random experiences all adding up to one amazing piece of work.
We often hold back on certain works of our lives, for fear of not being ready. Just a little more preparation, a little more learning, a little more… something.
But we must remember that we are not the only one looking out for our journey’s. There is a co-author of our lives, one who knows so much more than you or I, and whose heart is all about preparing and making a way for us to enter into something bigger than us.
Whatever you are facing or looking ahead to, whatever you are journeying toward, trust that you have been prepared more than you will ever know.
Settle into a confidence that all the good the bad and the ugly of your life are key, and in fact gifts, to the rest of your journey.