Sitting around a table with people who are happier sitting on the floor to eat always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I am aware they are in a world foreign to them and part of me wishes I didn’t have – that they would know I would be happy to eat with them on the floor too, and that I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable – just awkwardly unknown like they feel now.
They are late for lunch. We have already started. Who knows when they might arrive, and we have other things to do. Must keep things moving.
He looks strangely nervous in our house. We have met a dozen times on his earth, and I remember his confidence at killing the chicken and his laughing at my innocence and squeamishness.
Now he is here at my table eating lasagna and wearing checkered shirt over checkered shirt to keep away the damp Lima weather.
- I have never seen you wear so many clothes! My husband realizes why he looks different. He laughs shyly. - It has been many years since I was in Lima. Over 5 years.
In his eyes I glimpse sight of his son we know well, and I see the joyful playful innocence there too and I guess he was not unlike his son twenty years ago – impulsive, daring and determined, jumping head first into murky piranha waters to cool off, or pushing out the dug out canoe to catch fish.
- We are late for lunch.
It is a statement of fact, not regret.
- We have never worn watches.
Sometimes I regret that we are so time focused. That our schedules are so inflexible that we cannot allow time to delay lunch until the special guests have arrived.
- I guess the Shipibo’s tell the time by the sun? I ask trying to sound like I understand, when really, how can I?
- No. We tell the time by the birds.
I listen, fascinated. He likes to tell stories.
- But it is not always accurate. Two ladies in my village agreed they would meet in the field before sunrise, at the first cry of the rooster, about 4am. They both went to bed early and arose at the first cry, hurrying in the cool to the field before the sun rose. Together they waited and waited and the sun never rose. Finally, they decided to return to the village, where talking to others they realized it was still the middle of the night. The rooster had been confused by the full moon and had crowed at 11pm!
He laughs and I feel the freedom in the fact that it doesn’t matter that they were wrong. It doesn’t matter if the rooster cries too early or too late – no one is going to get annoyed or frustrated at being a moment or hour late or early – even if they realize! Estimation is good enough. It leaves time for life. And the variety just makes for a funny story!
Having spent time in his land, I realize that God designed rhythm, he designed order, but it was never meant to be something that controlled us – it was something that was meant to guide us.
And it makes me wonder, what things are there around me that God designed that I miss? How much do I listen to the world around me? Where have I made my life too structured or too routine that I miss out on God trying to tell me something? It was the priest and the Levite, the ‘holy helpers’ who passed the needy by, hurrying to their task.
Because the thing about the clock is that it always tick-tocks the same. The bird’s call and the Lord’s call is specific to the day. And I don’t want my watch to dictate what I do – I want my actions to flow out of my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…
– John 10:3