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When the Lord passed over the banana trees

November 12, 2008

That morning we left well before dawn.  We loaded into the back of the flatbed and stood shoulder to shoulder, back to stomach, feet on the edge.  Our walking sandals were strapped on our feet, theirs brown, mine white.  In a different time we would have carried walking staffs, but on that morning we all had our packs strapped to ourselves or the truck and our sarongs and hijabs wrapped around our heads to keep out the cold.  When the Lord passes over the Philippines, he does not dictate his people to make unleaven bread, but we did brew corn coffee on a fire under the stars and sipped it out of metal mugs, praising God with our slurps and silence.

Orion turned on his feet above us while we floated through the dark.  I could feel the cold migrating through my nose to my cheeks, my eyes turned up to the sky thinking of anything other than malnutrition and military occupation.  God moves the stars above all those things and the headlights of the truck pull us across the island below them.  Banana trees lined the road to the bridge- in the dark they looked like creatures trudging through a swamp, their massive leaves crowns of shadows over bodies bearing gifts of fruit for the Lord.  They told us the spirit of God rested on the other side of the bridge and we did not dispute.  Trees are not like people.  They are upright and true.

Inside my hiking sandals, my feet fell asleep and my pack wore a pain on the shoulder but my eyes did not come down from the sky and I did not blink when the cloud moved over us.  The fog was thin, merely a veil on the stars that gradually faded in the east, and it only took a breath before it floated into our past.  Can air still be cold when it’s inside the lungs?  Can clouds grab light and hurl it into space?  On that morning the whole universe revolved around a tiny valley on a tiny island in a vast ocean in an unending space.  And so the spirit of the Lord came down and blessed the valley with its cold breath.  Because banana trees are reborn each season, they have a better understanding of the world.  They were not surprised to see the Lord- they had their offerings out and ready to bless the cloud as it passed.  God’s children, on the other hand, still had sleep in their eyes and coffee on their lips.  

The Spirit isn’t bothered with details, it loves us all differently.  The cold kiss stayed on my nose until the sun rose a few hours later.

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