I am curious how COVID-19 restrictions are affecting you? For Lebanon, the nation has fared well, and I dare say it was because of the army enforced restrictions. Those continue to be place but we are in phase 2, of a 5-step reversal, of lock down. Now we can drive on Sundays (instead of just Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). Also, the barbers are open the first half of the week and the hairdressers on the second half of the week. Restaurants are open to 30% capacity, with no shisha smoking allowed. (Shisha is a intracule part of the social culture here and involves passing around a fascinating long pipe that is attached to a long cylinder that burns coals, nicotine and more. Some research reveals that one session of this type of smoking is equivalent to thirty cigarettes). It is nice to feel the rigid restrictions lift, just a little.
One restriction that has not be lifted is the insistence on having to wear masks (and often gloves) in public places. Last week, Darron and Nathaniel ran to do an errand in the van. They were stopped and asked if they had their masks with them. They had forgotten them. Darron held up a box of disposable gloves, that has now become part of our car essentials, and they were waved on in approval. However, they could not complete their errand with no mask.
So here we wander in the grocery stores, and slowly more stores that are opening, in masks. I don’t know how it is for you, in your own culture, but in a foreign culture I depend on my smile and facial expressions to make up for the thousands of words I do not yet know how to utter. When the lower half of one’s face is covered, the only expression left to speak is the eyes.
Can your eyes smile? Can they convey concern? Joy? Need? Empathy?
I have been thinking about this a lot as I wader with only my eyes conveying my heart.
I watch other people’s eyes more closely now, where normally I would be more focused on their mouth or full facial expressions. It is amazing what you can see in just the eyes. The crow feet wrinkles that often convey a smile. The flat affect that reveals discouragement.
I am still not quite sure that I am following the Middle East social norms when it comes to eye contact, for my Western upbringing encourages eye connection with all when I am speaking or listening. I think I probably should not be making eye contact with men as much as I do… I really need to find this out. But I am intentional to make my eyes smile at those I am interacting with. It is not much. It feels like nothing in a country of intense need, but it is a starting point and is comes from One who loves me more and gazes at you and I with a love that is unmeasurable.
I think also of all the messages I convey with my eyes to my children. Mask or no mask. Last year one of our young adult children was visiting us in Papua and I did not appreciate where a conversation was going with extra guests at our table. Without even thinking about it I shot a glance with my eyes that conveyed the message, “STOP”. Too which he did. Several nights later it came up and we all laughed about Mom, being Mom with her not so subtle eye messages.
Speaking of boys, it really has been a joy to raise our four guys for a significant part of their lives overseas. Just this week, Jacob and Nathaniel looking for a photo opportunity went to a thirty-year-old abandoned shell of a building on MEU campus. The building was stopped due to war and lack of funds. Several minutes after their departure from our home, Nathaniel was back stating that Jacob had been hurt and we needed the ladder. I grabbed wound supplies as I knew it was a gash in the foot and Darron went with Nathaniel to track down a ladder. I found Jacob perched up high on a wall, with his shirt off and wrapped around his foot. Once I saw him, I began to relax as I could tell that the bleeding was not severe. We began the process of switching out the shirt for a compress dressing by me launching supplies up to him. Meanwhile, I am standing on the edge of where a swimming pool was supposed to be built, but now has standing water and bulrush like growth. My mind imagines frogs, snakes and more in that undisturbed aquarium. Soon Darron and Nathaniel appeared with the ladder and Jacob was able to descend and hobble home. The story unfolds of him climbing the wall and the pillar of cement giving way and he having to catch himself. After getting secure he notes the pulsating wound to his foot. Fortunaetly, Jacob came all back together again with some steri strips.
Honestly, raising four boys in foreign lands has led to all kinds of crazy tails and I probably do not know half of them. However, all of guys will voice that they have loved the experiences and exposure. I am so grateful that Aubrey and Andrew were able to visit Papua prior to us leaving (with their girls). We hope they can come to Lebanon before the year is out.
So, as I reflect on mothering boys and masked faces, my eyes are smiling at the memories behind and the opportunities ahead. Stay safe and let your eyes speak intentional messages. Thanks so much for reading and being interested.