“The difference between me and you, baby,” Val said, arms hoisted behind her head, growing more tired after putting half her hair in twists for the night, “is not our situation, age, or race,” she finished, pointing to me, the fair-skinned wide-eyed housed twentysomething intern. Everything Valerie isn’t.
“I am walking in the light,” her eyes dimming a bit as she says this, “oh I know. I have that deep sadness too.” And I believe it. She laughs,
“But you are supposed to be here, what, babysitting me?” She’s right. The mattresses on the church basement floor bear witness to this. The ministry is about radical hospitality to those I’ve mostly prayed for, not eaten with. This is a holy grammar, but the shards of our mutual discomfort remain–some of us wear gloves, some share inside jokes. Valerie decidedly breaks through our antiseptic dealings with one another.
“I am walking in the light,” she repeats, and I believe it.
She really doesn’t explain what means, or even if she thinks I am really altogether in darkness, though that is how I have described some of these months past. In the back of my head is that bright shiny happy CCM song as she talks—
I want to be in the light as you are in the light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens oh OH…
But she’s right. She’s just so damned radiant it’s hard to look away. She keeps looking at me, smirking a little bit, and lays some things out for me.
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