I sit here and watch the storm coming. Dark clouds gather above the dancing swallows. Tree leaves quiver in anticipation. Thunder rumbles distantly.
Rain, here, is a sign of death: Houses flooding and rice crops washing away. Mud walls caving and killing people, and the persistent worry of a cholera outbreak.
But it's also a sign of hope: Relief from droughts, a welcome respite from scorching heat. Water in dried-up riverbeds and wells.
I sit here, and watch the falling drops splatter against the concrete, and I think about death and hope. Two such separate things, so closely linked in this, the place of extremes, where most of life seems to be either wonderful or terrible and there often isn't much in the way of a middle ground.
I live in the midst of this seeming paradox.
In the space of a single day, I'll go from sipping cappuccino at a high-end café to walking the filthy pathways that thread between small houses with no electricity, no plumbing, that fill up with water at flood time.
I'll step from my car filled with groceries and come face-to-face with a beggar.
I'll have lunch in one friend's tiny, one-room home (again, with no plumbing) and supper at another friend's enormous house (nice, even by American standards), complete with a maid and a gardener.
I've attended both a funeral and a wedding in a span of seven days.
I live in a society that treats me with elaborate courtesy one minute and insults me in Sena the next.
I wrote down some thoughts a few days ago about the difficulty I find in describing this life to all of the people who aren't living it.
Extremes like these are hard to discuss fairly, rationally, sympathetically.
Extremes like these are my life.
I sit, and listen to the thunder, and think of that other day, 2000 years ago, when skies darkened and rocks cracked and all nature mourned the death of the One who'd spoken it into being. A day of death and hope existing side-by-side.
I'm reminded of the other person who lived in extremes.
He healed beggars and dined with the wealthy. His friends came from every walk of life. And the way His society treated Him? "Hosanna!" one day and, "crucify Him!" the next.
From a banquet table to a whipping post. From honor to a cross.
So this Good Friday, as rain patters and clouds pass overhead, I reflect on the One who came to open a way for all men to be saved. Rich and poor. Prostitute and Pharisee.
Paul said, "I have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some."
Today, these words resonate with me like never before as I pray for the grace and strength to follow my Lord along this path...whether it leads to a mud hut or a mansion, hosannas or a cross.