She is sitting on the bench alone when we drop into her world.
It is our regular Tuesday: Music lessons and passing time.
Teddy’s guitar lesson is first, during which Jeffrey and I pass the time. Then comes Jeffrey’s drum, while Teddy and I pass the time.
On pretty spring days like this, we like to pass the time down the street from the music shop, at the Adena Indian burial mound.
I sit on the bench below as Jeffrey runs up and down the thing, rejoicing in the power of his legs.
But today, we have company.
I sit down on the bench beside hers–Jeffrey already ascending the mound.
She looks at me out of the corner of her eye. Then, in a sing-songy voice, she begins to talk to herself…throwing shy smiles my way every now and then.
Suddenly, a gusty breeze rustles the trees around us and we are caught up in a shower of maple tree helicopter seeds. We both squeal in delight and she holds up her two hands to receive this gift.
I take the bait.
“What is your name?”
“Ting? How do you spell that?”
“Oh. Just like it sounds.”
She smiles and runs over to a flowering bush to smell the blossoms.
“How old are you?”
“Do you live nearby?”
“Yes,” she gestures to the nearby street. “Above the restaurant.”
She points to the Chinese restaurant across the way. The place I love to get lo mein and perhaps a Chinese dumpling or two.
“I have a sister, three months old. She will go to China…” She puts her finger on her chin– thinking. “Soon. And I have another, four years old, who is in China now with my grandma and grandpa.”
I ponder this. But she is not done.
“I was born in America. Then I went to China too. But I am here now.”
Then she is off, running around the brick path that encircles the flowery bushes. She pretends to fly, holding out her arms like wings, throwing smiling glances my way the whole time.
As she glides on the wind, I think about this practice—this sending of daughters to native country. My heart aches at the thought of such a separation, and I realize that only something very important could make a mother send her child away in this manner.
Something important and a lot of faith. It would take a lot of faith to carry through with such sacrifice.
But faith in what, I wonder?
They don’t want their daughters to forget their heritage. They are passing along their history. Passing on their world.
This touches me, and I am left without words.
When Jeffrey comes down, I introduce him to my new friend. She smiles at him from underneath lowered lashes. He is beguiled by this beautiful China doll.
As we say our goodbyes, he throws this her way: “We’ll be here again next Tuesday.”
I deposit Jeffrey in drum and go upstairs to wait for Teddy’s lesson to finish. In the hallway, I sit on the cold metal chair leaning against the wall.
Music drifts under doors and floats out to me. A violin is scratching out a waltz as teacher and student move bows side by side. Next door is another guitar teacher, strumming chords along with his student. Teddy plunks out notes in another room nearby.
I close my eyes and it fills me up inside…This strange mixed-up symphony is oddly cohesive, and carries me into another world—one that I cannot understand any more than Ting’s world.
But I know that it is beautiful.
I am lifted into bold awareness of the many different worlds that live inside this place we call earth.
And I sigh as I think of another world. A world some people I love have recently entered.
The secret is fairly out.
And I don’t understand.
And I have made a mess of things once again.
Love can be that way—messy.
Much has been sacrificed already, and I wonder what heritage they will pass along.
And then I must do it again—drop the burden before Him, as I have done so many times recently.
I know what my faith is in—or Who, rather.
It buoys me.
We are all in His hands, Beloved.
I am reassured that He is holding my friends.
And I know, there is no place I would rather be.