10 November 2008

Clasping Her Daddy’s Neck

The mini-bus bounced along on the road from Donholm roundabout towards Kayole. The driver was erratic at times, as he maneuvered around the potholes. Often he had to swerve or brake for cyclists, pedestrians, mkokotenies (hand carts), goats, cows, motorbikes, etc. Riding public transportation in Kenya can, at times, seem like a white-knuckle roller coaster ride. They are bumpy, crowded, and uncomfortable.

The bus seats were almost all taken. Many passengers held large plastic bags of various and sundry goods. One young man sat next to his huge and cumbersome bag of potatoes on the floor; he had obviously purchased them at the farmers’ market in town. Perhaps they were to be used for “chips” (fries) at a small café.

On my way to see Joe, I sat midway back on the aisle. The DVD player mounted behind the driver kept up its incessant drone of loud hip hop music and accompanying videos. Competing with its volume, a couple of ladies engaged in mindless chatter. Most people sat in silence.

One conductor precariously hung out the door, ever on the lookout for prospective customers. “Bow, bow, bow,” he hollered, calling out the price of the fare. Now and then, he’d bang on the side of the bus or let out a loud whistle. Both were signals for the driver to stop, either to pick up or drop off someone. Another conductor fought his way through the cramped quarters, wearily collecting coins as the passengers dutifully paid their fare.

A few rows ahead of me sat a little girl, about five years old, on her Daddy’s lap. I couldn’t really see her so well, as her Daddy blocked my view of her. but, my gaze was drawn to her arms… clasped tightly around his neck.

In one hand was a rolled-up paper cone of ground-nuts. In the other was a small toy car. It was August, a month of “holiday” for school children in Kenya. I guessed that perhaps they’d enjoyed a day out in “town” (downtown Nairobi) and these items were gifts from her Daddy. As the mini-bus lurched to and fro, she kept her hands in that same position… clasped around her Daddy’s neck.

She was obviously comfortable and at ease. Being so close to her Daddy was very natural to her. Snuggled up next to his heart - in spite of the noisy environment - if she was still and quiet, she could likely hear his heart beating. Nestled in his bosom, she would feel secure and loved.

The man - her Daddy - got the conductor’s attention and tilted his head back, pointing just ahead with his chin. Bam, bam, bam, the conductor banged the side of the bus. The driver obediently slowed down and stopped at the Jacaranda Estate stage.

All the while, the little girl still clung to her Daddy’s neck, waiting patiently for him to move. She didn’t rush off the bus and down the steps. She was likely excited to show momma her new toy and to tell of their outing, but she waited to move with her Daddy.

She wasn’t in a hurry. She didn’t dictate to him when they should alight. She trusted her Daddy’s judgment. She relied on his wisdom. She knew she was safe in his arms.

I wondered why he didn’t move immediately. Eventually, I realized he also had two sons with him. They’d been sitting up front next to the driver. One by one, they stepped over some large packages and the large bag of potatoes, all lying in the aisle. Calmly, the man sat motionless, patiently waiting for his sons. The little girl was also unmoving, serene, and patient.

Only after the conductor had assisted both boys off the bus and onto to the street, did the man move. He calmly stood up and descended down the steps of the mini-bus, continuing to capably hold the little girl.

Even then… she still clasped her arms tightly around her Daddy’s neck.

This resurrection life you received from God is… adventurously expectant, greeting God with a child-like, “What’s next, Daddy?” Romans 8:15 (Message)

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