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A Winter Wonderland…

April 17, 2019

As we stood by the elevator contemplating whether to go swimming or use the sauna, after having built a snow man and having snow fights in the winter wonderland outside, is when she approached us and looked at me with inquisitive eyes. Knowing eyes. Ask her anything and she would have an answer or at least bullshit an answer if she did not know and you would believe her. It was probably that smile, that touched her eyes, pulls you in and makes you feel safe. She embodied love. She looked at me and said ‘I have been watching you all day, do I know you?’
We were at a youth summit, apart from some of the organizers, it was my first time meeting everyone and I said ‘No I don’t believe you do.’ “I guess maybe you have one of those faces, I was certain I did.” I have always wondered about that phrase ‘I guess you have one of those faces.’ Does it mean common, momentarily interesting and can be forgotten or my soul recognizes something about you that makes me gravitate towards you. There is a unique quality I just can’t explain. However when we are met with “I believe we have not met,” we find safety in “I guess you have one of those faces.”
The only way I can describe that week at the youth summit, is incredible! Yes, we got work done, workshops, partnership meetings, our exchange projects will change and improve and reach out to more youths but it was outside the work that the real magic happened. Making friends, it was in building snow men, in snow fights, in sitting in the sauna and then going to roll around in the snow, in game nights, in watch soccer together, it was in connecting.
It was in skiing, a first time experience for most people. The laughter in falling, in joy at starting to master the technique, in sledging and doing snow angels. It was beautiful memories made in a winter wonderland!

On March 10th 2019, ET 302, Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crashed, 6 minutes after take off from Addis Ababa for Nairobi Kenya, killing 157 passengers. Families across the world lost family and friends. Two of the participants at the youth summit were on that flight. And all I saw was her beautiful smile as she said ‘I have been watching you all day, do I know you?’
My heart broke! The hotel room became suffocating, I needed air, I needed to walk. I was scared, how was I supposed to get on an ET flight a couple days later.
My heart broke! How can ones heart break when you barely know a person. All you know is their name, the work she did with Girl Guides, her laugh and her smile that spoke of a beautiful soul. I thought it tragic, unfair and unnecessary. As I sat at the pier, I wondered how she must have felt as the plane plunged, what did she think.
I thought how fleeting and uncertain our lives are! And maybe useless! The sun was setting, and somehow I noticed that, and there was a painful and weirdly comforting thought “everyone’s time sets eventually and it’s what you do with the time you have.” How do you want to be remembered. That you made people feel safe. Do you make people laugh. Do people feel seen. Do people the warmth of your heart when you hug them. That people walk away from you feeling loved just by your smile. How do you want to be remembered? And when your sun sets, will you go out with the prelude of a winter wonderland that prepares you for the golden streets of Heaven? Or what your version of a peaceful afterlife is.
I said goodbye to that beautiful smile as the sun set. I felt seen by her, I wasn’t common, I was seen. And by being seen, I saw her, the fullness and beauty of her life within the back drop of a winter wonderland.
‘Musings of that Malawian Girl’

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