Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meeting Moses in the Desert

Origionally published in Record Magazine (on Dec 4, 2010)


I recently met Moses in the outback.
I spent a week in Western Australia at the Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community telling faith stories to the students. Moses is a tiny five year old student who has the uncanny ability to appear in front of you at the slightest wiggle of a lens cap. I now have a sizable collection of photos of Moses’ amazing smile! What he lacks in stature, he makes up for in joy!
Meeting Moses was not the only inspirational thing I experienced at Karalundi. There were so many beautiful people with wonderful hearts. Students who love life. Teachers who exude a clarity of purpose. Staff members who care deeply. Karalundi, an oasis in the desert, truly nourished my heart and soul.
The Aboriginal people are a storytelling people. I spent hours sitting at a picnic table or in a conversation-circle on the ground with students. I learned so much and laughed a lot. And I answered a lot of questions: “Pasta, where ya from? Who ya mum? Who ya wife? Who ya kids? Where ya been? Where ya go?”
I was particularly blessed by one special questioner. At the Friday night program, I invited anyone who wanted to pray or to know more about Jesus to come forward and sit next to me on the stage after the meeting. After nearly everyone had left, nine year old Kelly sat next to me and wiggled her head under my arm so that it draped over her shoulder. She looked up at me for some time before asking two deeply beautiful questions.
“How Jesus be up in Heaven and be here too, one like us?” This question still brings tears to my eyes (even now as I write, I’m dabbing my eyes!). One like us... Me and Kelly. Us. How do you explain the all embracing love of a child? I squeezed my arm tightly around her little shoulders.
“How God be way far up there and still He hear us when we pray?” I’m not sure if it’s the questions (they were good ones!) that bring the tears or if it’s the memory of the truly pure heart I was so privileged to sit next to. The questions were easy. I answered them with one word each: “Incarnation. Omnipresence. Run along now!”
Not even close. Kelly and I sat there for a long time as I told her stories about a God big enough for both of us and more all-embracing than we can hope to imagine or begin to imitate. She was gracious and listened. Then she rushed out to get the evening snack from the kitchen. Did I mention the cooks? Wow!
I suppose, the desert experiences in life are meant to teach us. But I was caught by surprise. When I landed in Perth and began the eight hour drive, I knew I was going to the desert. But instead, I found the promised land, or at least a brief snapshot of it. Thanks, Moses. Thanks, Kelly. And thanks God, for Karalundi.