This is a photo taken at 6:00am from my bed in Amman Jordan. I sit up, lean back, look out the window, and watch the sun rise.
We are going on our fourth week here now. I love so much about being here. An all time favorite love of all has got to be the sun shining on me first thing in the morning.
So why was the window the very last thing I decided to clean in our apartment? The only plausible answer I can come up with is the fact that I am afraid of heights, deathly. Cleaning the window would require me to go out on the balcony of our top story apartment.
Did I say balcony? It's more like a window ledge with wrought iron around it. Seriously.
Yesterday, upon awakening, I realized my cloudy view wasn't my lack of glasses, nor was it my misty morning vision, it was a really dirty window that needed attention if I was going to get the full benefit of the sunrise.
As Kirk ran out the door, I announced with victorious but premature satisfaction that I was going to clean those windows before lunchtime. His suggestion that I wait for him to come home and help was met with a shrug of the shoulders, like "well see." He left with a word of caution not to work too hard, "this was a big job!" (famous last words)
Long story short, I locked myself out on that window ledge/balcony! In my pajamas. With nothing but a bucket of hot soapy water, and a sponge. Well, there was the blazing hot sun beating straight down on me, reflecting off my shiny clean window! There was that.
Eight stories up. Lonely, empty street below.
Balcony; half an arm span wide!
I hadn't panicked yet, although I probably should have. I tried to push and pull the door open. I tried the "bump and slide" method. I leaned and lurched. Then, I noticed on the metal casing of the sliding glass door an engraved marking which read, “Made in Italy.” My heart sank. That said to me, “Lady, you are not breaking into this door! It’s a European import!
The street is never this quiet! I’ve never seen it this bare. Where was everyone? My friends and neighbors live in the building across the street. I thought about shouting for them. I tried it. “Jessica! Eliza!” No way. They couldn't hear or they were just plain gone.
Nobody's home! No one's around! No one is gonna miss me all day long! I just talked to Kirk 45 minutes ago. I am in a tight spot here. Literally.
So, there’s another balcony, same size, attached to the bedroom just next to ours. Probably three, maybe four feet away. I’m way too afraid though, now that I’ve looked down, to attempt anything like jumping from one to the other. We are 8 stories high. (The elevator says we are on the fourth floor. But they have it messed up! There are two flights of stairs for every floor here. I’m onto them. And I am on the eighth floor!
Oh yeah, did I mention I’m in a foreign country, a very conservative country, in my pajamas? I can’t speak the language well enough to get help even if I found someone anyway.
I do have some mad nonverbal skills however. And, as luck would have it, after what seemed like forever but was maybe 30 minutes, a boy rounded the corner. Maybe seven years old, pushing a stroller with his baby brother inside.
Wahoo, I'm thinking! I watched, hoping they would come closer. He stopped though, on this lonely street about 4 parked cars away, let his 18 month old brother out, and started playing hide and seek in, out and between the parked cars.
When he got near enough, I hollered down. “Hey!” His brother was crying because he hated the game they were playing, so this kid thought I was reprimanding him. He quickly looked away. I hollered again and in my best pantomime, acted out my predicament. I did use a little Arabic and tried to yell "Please!" as I pointed to the little security shack that the guard sits in near our apartment building. I'm hoping against hope that the guard was inside.
This new little life-long friend of mine, Abdullah, did get him, brought him out and pointed up at me. The guard instantly recognized the trouble and in his limited English yelled up to me, “one minute please.”
A long few minutes later, our 'Haaris,' the "super" for our apartments, jumped into action and had me rescued.
There’s a small miracle here.
Our doors are such that when you are home you have to use the key to lock the door. You typically leave key in the lock and then no one, not even someone with a key can get in. So if I lock it, not even Kirk can get in unless I unlock it. I always leave the key in the door, because it would be terrifying to be locked in.
For some reason, I left the key in the door but didn’t lock it. If I had, I don’t know how even the Haaris would have been able to get in to help me, without breaking the door down.
He explained to me in Arabic that it’s not a good idea to wash the windows with the hot sun shining on them. It makes it much more difficult. Wash the windows when it’s shady!
After quite a break and a cool drink, I attacked those windows again. This time, I stuck a shoe in the sliding door track. I wasn’t taking any chances.
You can see now why I had to wash the windows though.
The call to prayer wakes me up at 4:00 every single morning.
And then the sun comes shining in my room. Right onto my pillow, at 6:00am. I was missing half of it for the dirt on my windows.
I can see clearly now.
However, what I see is not as bright as I was hoping.
I talked to our students for a few minutes today about pride, and about willfulness.
Sometimes I set my jaw, roll up my sleeves and push ahead into the fog without stopping to really look or listen, thinking I've got this. Pretty sure I can do this on my own. Then get more and more angry when it doesn't work out. Yet I continue to do the same thing over and over again.
Gratefully, there was a small miracle and I was rescued. Much like I am rescued over and over again every day, when I get into trouble because of my stubborn pride.
Kirk suggested I wait for him to come home and he would help with the window project. For several reasons he wanted to help. But I had something I needed to prove, I could do it on my own!
I shared this analogy that I love from CS Lewis with the students today:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of...throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, and making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace.We don't usually see clearly why things are so difficult at times. And when they are, at these times, many of us either get angry or feel like things are unfair. "This is not what I signed up for." We are pretty sure we are in this battle alone. Or else, we choose to go it alone. Oftentimes it's out of fear or anger, or perhaps, just that we are certain we know the best path to take.
And then we end up trapped on the ledge.
Really at the mercy of One who will help.