take me back

Take me back to the greenery, rice fields on the left and right, with palm trees scattered around. I’ll look again at the clouds, and watch the storm roll in — and then quickly pass.

Take me back to the place where they speak Khmer, where I’m lost in a sea of words that I can’t understand, but love listening to the way they roll their tongues. Take me back to the place where we greet with “chumreapsua” and I put my hands together and bow my head gently forward. 

Take me back to that bedroom — with the window looking at giant palm tree fronds. I’ll sit on the bed again, reading for hours and then dozing in the middle of the afternoon, listening to the hum of the fan blowing out the heat. I’ll show you my stack of books and I’ll tell you what it was like to read so intently for days. I’ll tell you what I learned about courage from Brene Brown, and living loved and accepted from David Benner, and corruption and economic development in Cambodia’s politics from Joel Brinkley. 

Take me back to the kitchen, where we can eat the sweetest tasting bananas while we talk about what everyday unsexy faithfulness looks like, where I ask questions and Scott answers them with wisdom and grace, where Andrea listens gently as I tell her what’s on my heart. In the kitchen we can drink coffee again, make brownies for snacks, listen to Zachary ask for milk. 

I want to go back to the place where we wear flip flops everywhere, they slip on and off our feet throughout the day as we enter and exit homes. We’ll walk down the dirt road and feel the sweat dripping down our faces, but it won’t matter because there’s no makeup on to mess up or clothes that can’t be changed for the next outing.

Let me take you to the “big red truck”, as Zachary calls it, we’ll sit in the front seat watching the motos pass by and sing a hundred songs and point out every colored car we see. We’ll listen to Coldplay and Z will nap with his enterouge of stuffed animals (Kiki, Oreo, Sydney, and blankie). 

Take me back to the busy market place, the varieties of fruit and vegetables scattered on blankets while the woman lean on their hind legs chatting and bargaining with customers. After we buy our chicken and vegetables, we’ll get iced coffee (which is made with sweetened condensed milk and is sweet and refreshing). Z will cling tightly to his mom as the women come up and want to touch his white skin, and I’ll follow behind with our basket of food.

Let’s listen again to the sounds from the Buddhist wat, hear voices echo in the microphone. Let’s then visit the wat and see the architecture, the burned incense, the orange clothing the monks wear. Go, stop for more than just a moment to think about religion and culture and tradition and nationality.

I can’t go back today, or anytime soon, but I’ll remember the peace this place brought me, the deep thinking and questions that I pondered in sacred spaces — the room with the window facing tree fronds, the kitchen with Z’s feet slapping against the tile floors, the car rides in the “big red “truck”. I can’t go back, but I’ll remember those places and faces, and treasure them deeply. 

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