As Mazwi perused over my license and passport, he enthusiastically asked me to show me where my name was. I pointed and his finger pinned mine in his haste, worried he might loose the place. “Rah-chul…” He paused, confused by my middle name. “Lisabeth,” I prompted. “Oh!” his brown eyes lit up in recognition, “Lisabeth. Swe…Swe…Swenson!!” His childhood triumph skittered across his face only momentarily before it was replaced with another look of confusion. “But where is Nomusa? Nomusa is your name too. Where is it?”
How does one explain to a five year old that the name he knows me by wasn’t my name until I came here?
My heart is crying.
Crying for all that is swallowed
by the tidal wave of Western conformity.
Crying for those who feel they are worth less
Crying for the blank stares fashioned by
My heart laments innocence lost before it’s time,
Grieves for unjust pain,
Whimpers out of unfairness.
I cannot be the only one
who wants to scream into the silence.
The silence that is my only answer
When my soul questions what my eyes see
But what my mind cannot comprehend.
The silence, as oppressive as darkness,
Steals hope, steals possibility, steals morality.
Small voices cry out into the empty space,
Attempting to beat back the abyss.
Into this wilderness, a sudden blaze.
Darkness is shattered, no more than a window pane.
All falls second to the overwhelming fire.
The light shines in the darkness and it was not overcome.
Of a child’s smile
Of a woman’s belly-deep laughter
Of a man’s grateful tears.
Of a tireless social worker
Of an ambitious new graduate
Of those too stubborn, or too hopeful, to give up.
Small glows from small candles,
growing together, becoming the blaze
setting aflame to
injustice, hatred, greed,
leaving soil rich and dark
for love, laughter, and understanding.
“Pay attention!” each candle calls.
“Pay attention – it is not all shadows.
The darkness is real, but it is not all.
Do not get lost – come with us.
We will show you the Way.
The Way is the Word
And the Word was made flesh.
So grab hold of us.
Entwine our hands.
Walk with us.
We will show you the Way.”