Today was a quiet day at Restoration. We woke to a steady drizzle making our walk down Moi sloppy and our ride on the matatu to Bamburi quite steamy. As is typical of our early morning ride, shoppers were returning from the large markets in Bombolulu with wares they hope to sell from their carts in Bamburi. They climb aboard the matatu and are handed their back-braking sacks of yams or corn or charcoal. They sit with the tall sacks on their laps saving the cost of a second seat. Today, I am thankful for a window seat to catch the wind and dry a bit.
The rain and heat intensifies the sweet decay of the rubbish that lines the road and makes the charcoal smoke hang low to the ground. Once I break off the road, the walk down the path to Restoration is a maze of puddles. I remember a few weeks ago when I would carefully calculate each step–sometimes backing off to find a route that seemed less muddy. Like so many other things, I have become less timid of the mud. It was the last rain that cured me.
That rain had been steady for a few days and the ground, a mixture of sand and clay, shifted with every step. Puddles reached from one side of the road to another and the path had been transformed into a steady stream. As was my habit, I was carefully testing each step before putting my full weight behind it. I hugged the ridge that separated the tall grasses from the path. Finally, I planted that deceiving step, the ground gave way and my foot slid calf-deep into a puddle.
I managed to keep my balance but, when trying to pull free, I found my foot securely stuck in the mud. Now, with one foot perched on the higher ridge and the other sinking deeper and deeper into the clay, I tried to calculate my options. I was not in a position to shift my weight. Neither did I think it prudent to sink my second foot into the suction of clay. My options certainly seemed very limited. I removed my backpack, secured my water bottle, and tossed both up into the tall grass.
My attempt to lean and fall gracefully toward my free foot on the bank was less than successful. After a momentary glimpse at success, I slid bottom first into the puddle. As we learn in science, what goes up must come down and immediately, the muddy water I displaced in the fall came splashing down covering my hair, glasses, and shoulders. The good effect was that the spill freed my foot. I reached down and yanked my sneaker from the mud and pulled myself up out of the puddle.
What was there to do? I gathered my backpack and located my water bottle. I wiped off as best I could with my bandanna and I continued on.
As imagined, my entrance to school created quite a spectacle. The children fell out of control. Pastor James bent in half and rested his hands on his knees as he laughed uncontrollably. Even Madame Margarate, who is always a model of composure, had to push a child from his seat so that she might rest from her laughing fit.
As I twirled to show off the handiwork of my morning, I knew my life had become easier now that I had conquered my fear of the mud!