If the barge docks don’t lie, the river will rise thirty feet when the rains come, but for now it’s quiet with women schussing barefoot along the river carrying cassava on their heads and babies on their backs.
If you’re a doctor at Pioneer Christian Hospital, and not busy dispensing ARVs or convincing beautiful black women who’ve destroyed their skin with lightening creams not to split for the witch doctor, you can grab your family and trot down the cliffs to the miles of open sand. There, new and old friends are waiting.
Tonight it’s a little cold to swim, so we camp out on an old tarp left behind by the UN. We eat avocado and pineapple sandwiches and salty peanuts and real American brownies somebody made with the last of their propane. Blond haired missionary kids, who were born in country and speak Lingala like the natives they are, do backflips in the river with their friends.
Soon, stars belonging to both North and South begin dancing over the equator, as if one hemisphere’s stars are not enough. And because moon is late, the Milky Way emerges like pixie dust.
It’s here your cup might overflow and drown you.
Jesus himself said “I came so you might have and enjoy your life and have it in abundance until it overflows.” John 10:10.
This gathering, this river, this space, these stars feel so abundant it is hard to contain it – something Jesus also promised – Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38.
That kind of abundance exists for those willing to submit all of it to Jesus and let him decide where the abundance is found. But who would have thought? Here Lord? The Republic of Congo? In my wildest imagination, I never saw this coming.
Walking home across the river dunes, Orion’s Belt up ahead and the Southern Cross at our backs, we wind up back at the mission, – the beating heart of Pioneer Christian Hospital. And because this is Africa, the Land Cruiser keys are missing or it won’t start or somebody needs a ride but they disappeared, so we wait.
And that’s lucky because standing deep in the shadows as the bats squeal in the mango trees, the fireflies appear, lighting up the wet grass with fleeting little sparkles.
And it doesn’t matter where you look, over your head or under your feet, the world just shines, and it’s tempting to drop to your knees and weep. For this one small moment, it is as He prayed…
On earth as it is in heaven.