Let the banquet begin

O happy day when friends return from
afar, safe, unharmed, fingers, toes and
taste buds intact, hearts strong (though
weathered from the journey), long past
ready to put suitcases away, for more

walks in the woods and the familiar
faces of bloodkin and soulfriends.
Long past ready for snuggling with
familiar soil and hugging delicious
necks, belly-button to belly-button,

with time to relish memories of the
year now sprinted by. Good times
past, and sweet; hard times, too,
and some sour, and surely too
many miles, ever struggling to

understand and be understood, and
hot-sweaty times, clothes pasted to
skin but also with salt-scented
Caribbean breezes, all this, and more.
Not to mention having stood, time after

time, exposed to the breath of the Spirit.
And not the soft-gentle-sentimental kind,
more like the squall of a wind tunnel,
like jalapeño concentrate, like the
towering, lightning-filled cumulus sky

whose signature inscribes so many Cuban
late afternoons. Time to rest from such
rigor. The heart can take only so many
leaps and adrenaline darts. Time to soak
and saunter and ponder
     what it means
       to be nothing,
            yet everything,
               at the same

No doubt, there is a tearing in returning,
a certain severing of immediacy with mercy
on that far edge. But the seeds of your
learning were surely planted deep. Time
now to let them grow and blossom and

bear fruit to both nourish and delight
the rest of us—we who tracked your
movements from this distance, who
marked the calendar, whose faces lit up
when your names appeared in our email

in-boxes (knowing how much work was
required of you for each and every one)
—for we sense that you bear in your bodies
the compass readings toward a new horizon
by which we, too, can set our sights and

plot our journey. All that you have sought
and seen and savored—with provisions no
greater than the child at Jesus’ impromptu
picnic—shall feed a multitude and to spare.
Let the banquet begin.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org. Celebrating the return of good friends from a year spent in Cuba.