Sunset over Maseru, Lesotho, September 2010
When I was a child, I thought that the appearance of sunbeams through a cloud was a sign that God was watching. Those beams were like God’s flashlight, I thought: they were evidence of Him peering through the gloom, looking for signs of human grace, or whatever it is that God looks for, when God deigns to look, really look, upon us. They were reassuring, those beams, I thought. I wasn’t inclined to go stand underneath them – I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted God shining his beam on me when I was, say, pinching my sister or smuggling chocolate chip cookies, but still. I was glad that he was keeping an eye on things.
I’m older now, and jaded and skeptical and weighted down by all those bitter-tasting things that come with age, and I’m pretty sure – although I don’t know enough about physics to back this up with science – that God doesn’t carry a flashlight. But when I saw those beams tonight, over Maseru, I paused for a moment and let myself hope that they were evidence of something like that.
And then I reminded myself that whatever God or the gods or fairy godmothers might have to do with any of us, it’s not in looking to them – or at least, not just in looking to them, and their flashlights – that we find hope. It’s in looking to ourselves, and asking, what can we do, we, who have no cloud-piercing flashlights?
I’m clinging to that today, as we head out to Barea to visit the hospital and the doctors and officials, and to meet local moms with HIV and their babies without HIV and their babies with HIV and to learn more about what we can do, and I know that my heart will burst (how many times will I say that?), so I’m clinging to that. And also watching the clouds.