It was hot that day, I remember. And not just because every day in this West African capital city is hot, but hot because the sun was shining with an unequaled intensity, pulsing in waves through the air and saturating every surface.
Stepping into the African taxi, I caught my breath as the heat surrounded me and threatened to drain every ounce of energy I had. I glanced at my shopping companion — my guide, my hero. The tension found in meekness — strength under control — was fully exemplified in her 70-year-old frame.
I found myself asking her question after question to extract as much wisdom from her years of experience as I could. I listened to her answers and tried to puzzle together the story of this woman, worn and tired, yet still pouring out life for the service of the King.
She was not strong by human standards, but her spirit possessed a strength of will not seen: the will to smile even when exhausted, the will to love the unlovable, the will to endure the heat and the dust and the taxi — all because she knew her mission and gave herself to it wholeheartedly.
As the taxi flowed in and out of the streams of traffic, I let myself drift along to the rhythms of the city, taking in the colors and the sounds as a spectator. The road I would hesitate to navigate on my own was suddenly before me, and I found that my companion’s presence was enough to embolden my timid spirit.
A Slight Detour
My shopping companion spoke a few words of instruction to the taxi driver, and soon we had turned off of the main road and into the parking lot of a grand cathedral.
Other cathedrals may overshadow this one in beauty and splendor, but perspective has everything to do with how we appreciate something, doesn’t it? A sandwich is not worth noticing to one who has ample opportunity to be nourished and fed, but it represents a feast to one who is merely existing.
This simple cathedral was a feast.
As soon as we stepped through the wooden doors, the bold colors and harsh noises melted away, leaving in their place a calm and a peace that I had not known in this city before. We each selected a pew, set our weary bodies down, and breathed in rest. After 20 minutes, or perhaps 30, the woman who had brought me nodded her head in a satisfied way and said, “There. Now I feel ready to tackle the shopping.”
Perspective has everything to do with how we appreciate something.
What a sweet treat, to carve out time and space for rest and peace, to get away and be with the Lord before I even knew I needed it.
The rest of the shopping trip went on as normal, but of all the treasures gained that day, the best was a little nugget of truth: the wisdom of a quiet place.