She called and my heart did a little hop, skip, and a jump - the kind that ends with my heels clicking together in glee. We hadn't kept in touch on a regular basis, no monthly phone calls or pre-planned visits, just a facebook message here and there with a call on particular occasions for no particular reason except that she was on my heart.
We hail from different countries, from different mothers, with different native tongues but we share the heart of sisters, the bond that comes through longs nights talking and long days struggling, upholding each other through good times and bad. Yet in time, her mother would became my fairy godmother, creating two magical dresses for me when it was time to pledge my life to a man from way up north and my own mother has played host and surrogate mother to her, providing us a place to come for a holiday and respite from school and our usual housemates.
Her call was still a pleasant surprise even as it became apparent that the circumstances under which the phone rang were not. She poured out her heart, starting first with the current crisis and then rushing on to the burdens she still carried from the past, releasing finally what she should never have bore alone.
I felt that I had somehow failed her as a friend, that I had been absent and too long absorbed in my own little world - population: me. As her broken heart wept, my heart was fully broken. Miles apart, we shared the sorrow, spilling tears that couldn't salve. I was quick to apologize, quick to want to mend what I knew for sure I couldn't.
"If only I would've known, if only there was something I could've done, could do," was my tepid response. I wanted to rush in with a full battalion of support, me and whatever mighty minions I could round up.
"I wish there was something I could do. I wish, I wish I could be there for you."
Those words, as soon as I heard myself speak them, were the trigger that awakened me from a slothful hibernation of desire and moved me to an active response of doing. Though I had a family and responsibilities here I knew I needed to be with her there. What was precious and blessed in my life could not be the crutch or excuse that kept me from offering to another what I had already been granted a thousand fold.
My husband booked the ticket to NYC that would bring our sister-hearts close enough for reunion; I packed just hours before take-off that would lift me skyward towards my mission of lifting-up. Upon arrival, I did what I came there for: I was present. I couldn't make this journey easier, couldn't move the obstacles away from the road before. I could hardly bring comfort when the bumps turned into impassable roadblocks, no words I could offer could soften this pain and the uncertainty still to come.
What I could do, I offered. I hugged, I cheered, I prayed. We walked together, devoured good food together, explored together. We cried buckets together but also, we laughed. About the good ol' days, even these present hard days, and with hopeful though unsure hesitancy about the ones to come.
These days my eyes are being opened to needs greater than my own, struggles more strangling than what I am experiencing. My heart has long been awakened to the needs across the oceans and I want to give and support and I do give and support. But even here, on the great North American island between the seas, are my brothers and sisters facing extreme trials. When one past day I would say my money is better spent sent over there, I am realizing the gift and blessing of giving it here. Towards a plane ticket to NYC, in a bank draft for someone in danger of losing what I already possess, in hosting the lonely lining up outside my doorstep - these are the gifts of God wrapped up for me, given for moments of unveiling that happen only when I pass them on and marvel at His goodness and provision as I finally see the gifts reflected in the faces of others.
I say I love others, I believe I love others. But when the opportunities arise, do I love from a distance or is my love willing to go the distance? Am I willing to (heart), even in NYC?
*The line population: me are lyrics from a Matthew West song that speaks to me and challenges me every time I hear it. While in NYC, I stayed with my friend at the Hotel Grand Union, a darling little antiquated hotel so very close to the hub of the city. We ate at Pinto, a serendipitous find, the loveliest Thai restaurant in Greenwich Village off the subway stop at Christopher St. It was only my first visit to the city and that only less than 48 hours total. Yes, I plan to go back...hopefully very soon!