We only have an hour.

Walking single file down the broken sidewalk, we look for the familiar house with gift bags swinging over our arms, our breath swirling in clouds above our heads in the twilight.

“Is this the one,” H asks pointing to the white two-story with dark blue shutters.

I lean across the ivy clad picket fence peering sideways through the glass door, hoping for a glimpse of familiarity inside.  Just in case we picked the wrong house.

“Yes, this is it,” he decides, “see the historical marker and they’re right there inside.”

I’m a curious traveler looking for home, mesmerized by the ambient light of community coming from the end of the narrow hallway.  Unaware that they’re walking to the door to welcome us.

Five summers ago our families lay virgin eyes on Africa together. Sharing bumpy car rides over potholes, wiping dust from our sweaty brows, navigating our collective five through culture shock, cold showers and crabbiness. Mystified by how a country torn by brokenness can be a lesson on hope. And we called it that – Homes of Hope – the fund raising effort we cultivated together for five years helping eighty Rwandan orphans after that mission trip.

We all grew a bit taller in our perspective.

I shed my coat; drape it over a chair in the hall, the scent of rosemary and olive oil enticing me to see what’s brewing in the kitchen. We swirl the smell of communion in stemmed glass; taste resurrection in the children we bore; laugh over events and the passage of time.  Scoop handfuls of roasted nuts and swallow change congregating around the family bar.

Listen to their stories. Of rescued puppies, a new grandson crawling on the floor and their three girls grown into women walking through the front door. And it makes me gasp. The way God grows each of us into what He beheld when we took our first breath.

How a stray heart can be rescued in the warmth of people who know and accept you for who you are.

It only takes an hour, before celebrating your daughter’s seventeenth, for the evensong of community to break bread in belonging.  And discover that everything and nothing stays the same.


Linking with Jennifer for Tell His Story and Emily for Imperfect Prose.