The plan had been to leave on Monday and return on the following Monday but when Monday arrived, he had a fever. Not a high fever but even by one degree it puts a strain on my dad’s slight frame. “I didn’t sleep well and that always interferes,” he said.
I tried not to worry. I told him to take the day and rest, we would leave on Tuesday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday came and went.
So we didn’t end up leaving until Friday but even a weekend away is good.
It seems both my dad and my dog are slowing down and I’m doing my best to accept the fact that I will probably outlive them both.
The three of us were in the car on our way up north and Dad told me for the second time that week he hadn’t slept well. I hadn’t either. “Something on your mind, Dad?”
“Yes! The 40,000 people who have fled their homes to save their lives from the Islamic militants and are now trapped on a mountain without food or water–men, women and children. How could I sleep? They left with nothing. President Obama finally authorized airdrops of food and water. I just couldn’t imagine how there would ever be enough for all those people. I laid awake praying for a long time but couldn’t come to any resolve until I remembered Jesus feeding the 4,000 with five loaves and two fish. There were 12 baskets left over. I prayed if God could do it then he can do it now so that’s what I prayed and could finally get a little rest.”
As we drove on, I told Dad it would probably be good to be away from the news for a couple days, feverish and strained as he had become from it. But there’s no escaping it and as more news unfolded it grew worse. Men and children slaughtered. Women sold as sex slaves.
I woke exhausted the next morning and headed to the kitchen grateful for water to boil for coffee.
Later, I rode my bike to the grocery store for newspapers and on my way home, noticed two cows grazing in a pasture. I remembered the cows we had seen on the drive up the day before bound in stantions at a dairy–metal bars around their necks. “I hate seeing those cows like that,” Dad had said. “They spend a lot of time in there.” I thought of the people trapped.
Two calves suddenly appeared under a tree. I stopped and got off my bike, took my groceries off my back to sneak up for a closer look. I shot a photo and they jumped, running across the field towards their mothers.
I thought of the gunfire. Freedom. A gift I so easily take for granted. I turned to look at the calves with their mothers and couldn’t bear to think of the children separated from theirs.
I thought of the people without food as I reached my arms back into the straps of my bag with groceries.
I made lunch for Dad. He ate as I read the papers out loud.
Afterwards, we went to visit Harold who had lost his wife Arbutus recently. At 95, he’s the oldest man on Washington Island. His smile is still boyish and his eyes twinkle. “Harold, I have never heard you complain once in all the years I’ve known you,” Dad said to him. Harold agreed to let us pick him up for church the next morning and then come over for pork roast.
When life seems out of control, things like calves running in fields and Sunday dinner with the oldest man around are more special than usual.
Tonight, as Sunday draws to a close and we sit safely on the other side of the world, I think of letting the war inside myself go to pray for those in wars going on around them–and for all of them, I will not lose hope.