still whispers

Posted on November 6, 2009


The heat was palpable.
In the one-room shanty, family togetherness quickly became annoyances. I rolled the sleeves of my shirt up and wet the rag in the ice water held in the sink for washing. Glancing at the sky, I silently wished for a storm.

“Girls, let’s go for a walk.”

My sisters and I breathed a sigh of exasperation as we looked at our mom with disbelief. My sister Blanche glanced at me with her how-can-we-get-out-of-this look and I just shrugged my shoulders. Sometimes, I learned the best thing was just to go along with what mom wanted. She is a fiercely loyal woman who doesn’t even break five-foot-two. However, her size is by no means a match to her depth of intimidation. And at that moment, the level of intimidation was quite powerful.

We were in the middle of nowhere in Idaho’s mountains. I had absolutely no desire to experience the heat radiating off of the red-clay dirt instead of watching the heat waves bounce off the surrounding peaks within the protected walls. But, it didn’t look like I had much of a choice.

As soon as we walked out the door, I was hit the a sudden breeze. The snow was finally melting on the mountain peaks and wind, crossing down from the tips, was cooled by the winter wonderland. We circled around the cow camp, my mom’s face wet with perspiration yet giddy with assignment. She led us to an enclosed area of tall and magnificent redwoods whispering of secrets lost in the wind. Leaves rustled. Twigs snapped. My mom stopped and closed her eyes, a small smile playing at her lips.

“Do you hear it?”

My sisters and I looked at each other.

“Hear what, mom?”

“The wind. What is it saying to you?”

I squinted my eyes and looked at her as if was going crazy. She caught me staring at her out of the corner of my eye and she walked over where I was and quietly spoke – “Just listen, Elora. If you listen, your heart will speak.”

I smiled, but not out of understanding. My mother has always been her own person, so I wrote this time off as an example of one of her eccentricities.

Two years later, I found myself in the jungles of Haiti. It had been a hard week, and I was aching for my family. I grabbed my journal and flashlight and as soon as the sun fell below the tree line, I opened my notebook and waited.

I could hear it. Slowly the wind made its way through the trees and caressed my face. The rumble of voodoo drums and voices of Haitians worshipping mixed and created an odd dichotomy central to the village. I closed my eyes.

I thought about the week. The friendships formed and the memories created. Being rushed by a wild boar. Sleeping in a hut. Experiencing poverty at the most devastatingly beautiful level and finally realizing the truth and importance of community.

And then it hit me. He hit me. My heart exploded with the awakening and realization of true worship. Authenticity. Humility. I glanced around and watched these Haitians who had become close friends of mine dance to their heart’s content, all to praise the One who gave them today. It was…breathtaking. It was eye-opening.  Voices raised around me as I joined in praise.

That was almost ten years ago. The experience with my mom? Ten years ago. But, it’s funny how these things leave an impression on you. At the time, I couldn’t have told you that wind rustling through the trees would hold any significance on my life. However, since my trip to Haiti, I’ve come to realize that God tends to speak to you in the weirdest and purest of places. For me, it took traveling to an impoverished country devastated by years of trials yet rich with faith and hope to understand that He is real and moving and pursues us relentlessly.

Still whispers spoken to us in the wind – it’s quite romantic if you ask me. Very much what the Lover of our souls would do.

What do you hear?