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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Time's Gentle Whisper

I called every other reference before I dialed his number. There was a click and then that unmistakable British-Mauritian accent came through clearly as he spoke his name. I swallowed then lightly said, "Hi! This is Maria. Your cousin." A moment's pause, then we were both laughing as he realized who it was and I slipped into a time of belonging. He hadn't forgotten and for that I was so thankful.

We had a late arrival to the program and I needed to process the application as quickly as possible. I scanned the list of references I would be calling, mentally calculating the time difference between California and the East Coast. It was nearly 10 am; they would be at lunch so it was a good time to call. Then I looked more closely at the last name. I knew that name. It was my cousin. One of many whom I hadn't spoken to, hadn't laughed with, since, oh, about 6 years. It was my own choice of course. That I had always known, had always owned.

It wasn't that I didn't want to connect. I couldn't. At least not then. But now, things were changing. The journey I'd been on for the past two years had been taking me slowly back to an understanding of who I was before the California years. I saw God bringing me full circle, healing, comforting, pulling a curtain of grace over the difficult years, and gently teaching me how to forgive. Starting with myself and then extending the gift to others.

The conversation was hesitant at first, even as it was comfortable. He had been my best friend when I came to visit on those few and far-between furloughs when we lived at my granny's house and ate frosted flakes for breakfast every day for two months. I cried and refused to say goodbye the day he left after visiting us in Egypt. I was only 10 but I learned there was no point in crying; painfully, I learned to say goodbye without a tear as the goodbyes multiplied over the years.

We talked about work, family, my studies. He had a deepening burden for ministry and sounded wistful as he spoke of what he did, hoping it would improve the quality of life for others. He cheered up as he mentioned a church plant he was helping to start, said we should chat sometime on Skype so we could meet his wife. Mercifully, he did not speak of the painful past.

I took the reference, we chatted some more, he said I still had a British accent. I laughed, it came out when I spoke to someone else with one but if I was speaking to an American then it disappeared once again. Another part of my hidden identity. I wondered briefly if that was a significant part of me then the thought vanished. I would explore it more later.

It was time to say goodbye so we did, promising to keep in touch better this time. Reluctantly, I hung up, then sat for a few moments staring at my computer screen. I was at work; I could not cry. The emotions were close, though. It had been 6 years, in reality it had been 16 years. 16 years since the split shattered my belonging. Perhaps now my Father was beginning to smooth the jagged edges as He gently led, drawing us closer together to Him and in doing so providing healing.

A few hours later I sent him a text from my cell so he'd have my number. His quick reply began with "Brilliant!" I smiled. People teased me about my frequent use of the word, particularly my boss. It didn't matter now; I knew where it came from. And in a single word. . .I knew I belonged. . .

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