I awoke to the sound of the shower. Suitcases were already packed and weighed, electronics charged, boarding pass printed out and tucked into his passport. He was leaving again.
In the days prior we ran errands about town to get toiletries, niceties and necessities. Unzipped luggage stretched out – hungry for clothes, a new camera, more pens, lotion and chili sauce. The night before we dined on pizza with our kids (since no one wanted to do the dishes). Then we kneeled together and prayed. He blessed them in turn. They stood, flanking him on either side, and prayed for his safe travel to Burundi ‘to help our poor friends.’ We prepared for the sadness of departure as best we could.
As he stepped out of the shower and into the closet to get dressed I felt the tears gather. Only a matter of time until they’d spill. Each hug from the bedroom to front door felt good on the outside but hurt inside. Each embrace brought us closer to our last. This is hard – every time.
Headlights streamed across the front-facing windows of the house and I knew the time to let go had come. Our friend, awake before the sun, loaded the bags into the car. Tears flooded my vision as I gave one last hug and took in the smell of his cologne. Go in peace.
Did I say it out loud? Did it get stuck in my throat or was it only whispered in my breaking heart? Go in peace. These ancient words of blessing and departure were on my lips as I prayed for him from the folds of my sheets while he moved further away on his journey to our other home.
Go in peace is what priests said to Hannah in search of a child and to the Danites in search of land. Go in peace was the benediction Elisha gave to leper-no-more Naaman as he returned to the complexities of Syria. And how many times did Jesus offer these words, go in peace, to women seeking healing and wholeness?
What came after these words? A pregnancy, land rights, wisdom, healing, forgiveness and release. It is the kind of goodness I wish my husband as he returns to Bujumbura to advocate for our Batwa friends, offer banking services to the working poor and pioneering a school for kids most people have forgotten.
Go in peace, my love, go in peace. God’s favor be with you as you pour yourself out for our friends.
*** Both photos taken by TIna Francis while she was with us this summer to visit Bubanza for SheLoves and join in Amahoro Africa’s annual gathering.