In the aftermath of the illness, my son and I seem to be suffering the same nightmare: I woke with a cry at around 6am, and moments later he did the same. His fearful dream the past few nights is of losing his parents; mine has been the fear of losing my boy, of somehow negligently causing him harm. So I crawl into his tiny bed and curl up next to him, in spite of what this does to my back, and we comfort each other for an hour or two of sleep. There's nothing to it, I know, but the fact that it hits us where we live: fear, and suffering.
Here in the office, where I'm spinning out the last fifteen minutes of my work day, my office mate and I are in similar states of persistent near-exhaustion. He suffers from headaches though, whereas I thankfully do not. I just feel low, low to the ground, and emptied out.
But there's an Oromo woman singing spirituals in Ethiopian in the hall, crooning into the echo chamber of the atrium entryway, occasionally interrupting herself to chat on the phone or with a girlfriend. Together they wait for the rest of the choir to arrive for weekly practice. She's drumming on the side table; she sings in a lovely light soprano. Certain members of the church like to complain about the Oromo congregation, who have been renting space here for a long while. These bitter remarks seem to originate with members of one of the pre-consolidation groups, before the three churches merged; with the folks who first set up the rental arrangement. There's a sense that it's a necessity of the church's poverty; that if we could afford to do without paying tenants, we would, because of the inconveniences and occasional "culture clash." I don't hear this stuff as much, after three years together, and in a way it surprises me still -- after all, the two congregations barely interact, and the minor conflicts that arise are always about property -- nuisance concerns. Nothing egregious. It's racial, I know. It's the fear of the "other," even here. I say "even here" as though the church should be immune -- because I do believe it should be. But, churches are made up of people. We are imperfect.
The young woman hums away down the stairs, and I'm left feeling thankful that they are moving with us into our new building -- keeping us interesting, keeping us on our toes.