Can’t Sleep

Can’t sleep. You could be anywhere in the world, and it’s all the same. Can’t sleep is can’t sleep. You could be sitting staring at a bamboo screen in China or a lace curtain in Belgium. Doesn’t matter. You’re not seeing anything anyway. You’re staring at nothing and nothing is the same everywhere.

Did You bring me half way around the world to be wheezing so hard I can’t sleep? Thoughts like that. Not worth the neurons they’re printed on. I know it. I know I can’t pay any attention to what I think after about 10pm, even on a normal night. On a night like this? Fa’ gedda ‘bout it.

Still, You seem so little offended by the question that an answer appears. It comes to mind how deeply my friend and I talked about You this afternoon and how refreshed she was, here in the European desert. Was is worth this whole trip and these sleepless nights?

Yes.

Now I’m thinking about recording this wheezing on my iPhone. It’s symphonic. It’s not just the regular whistles and squeaks. There’s a sub-bass rumble, high creaks, crackles, and a gurgling, backed-up-sink sound effect. It’s the stupidest thing in the world to lie awake listening to.

It’s definitely better than yesterday, though. It was so hard to breathe last night, I couldn’t lie down without gagging. That scared me. You had to reassure me–and I swear I heard a patient, fatherly smile in it–that I wasn’t going to die of bronchitis in Belgium. But I was scared and I asked You over and over again to heal me. In the last hours of the night, I sat hunched on the edge of the bed whispering, from the depths of my heart, “Son of David, don’t pass me by. Son of David, don’t pass me by.”

And You didn’t. “Wait for the dawn,” is what I heard. I knew You meant, “Healing is coming. Wait for it. I’m coming. Wait for Me.” And I did. And the dawn came and I watched it grow and, sure enough, I lay back down and fell asleep to it. And when I woke up, I knew You’d been there. I could feel the difference. Recovery had set in. It hasn’t reached all the wheezes yet, but it will. You’ve been here. I’ll sleep again.

How does it feel?

Today Matt Rogers gave me a haircut (Disco’s Chop Shop, Main St. across from Druthers, Campbellsville, KY). Matt and I were part of the group from the Campbellsville and Nashville Vineyards that visited Peru in 2005, so Matt knows something of the contrast between here and there. “How does it feel to be back in the States,” he asked me.

I never quite know how to answer that question. I think it’s because I feel so many things. I told him it’s like traveling between two planets. But one of the even stranger things is that one planet (Peru) knows that the other (the U.S.) exists but not vice versa.

When you get to know everyday South Americans and they get to know that they can trust you, they’ll start asking about the States. The U.S. is in the news a lot down there, and about half the TV shows on cable in South American are exported U.S. series overdubbed into Spanish. (CSI is hugely popular.) They know the U.S. can’t really be like TV so they ask: What’s it really like? Does everyone live in big houses in the suburbs like on TV? What do they like to eat? Why do they shoot each other so much?

Americans, on the other hand, don’t ask much about South America. It’s not that we don’t have the potential to care. It’s just that there’s nothing here that brings it to our attention, while everyday life here demands every ounce of attention we’ve got. There is, actually, some South American TV programming on our TV cable systems (I saw some Colombian soap operas on my sister’s system in Texas), but it’s in Spanish so we surf right by. And U.S. papers and the TV news don’t say anything about South America unless there’s a disaster.

So how does it feel to be back in the States? It feels like being stuck between two planets. Not really on one and not really on the other, either. Spacewalking. It feels sort of like spacewalking.