Fall down the rabbit hole. Slip through the looking glass. Tip toe across the hanging bridge. However it is you arrive, this is most certainly a magical “other” sort of place.
With each step, my eyes open wider and my soul expands. Once over the swinging bridge, glass mosaic underfoot, like a hint of what is to come, lures me onward.
If a Dr. Seuss book could merge into the 3-dimensional physical realm, this is most certainly it!
As we meander a shaded passage, my friend tells a story. One night she and her husband came here with another friend.
“Just here,” she says, “we were met by rushing, snarling dogs.” And following behind, a man with gun cocked.
“Who is it?” he demanded gruffly.
Meekly, they replied, they were looking for the restaurant; but perhaps their arrival was after-hours?
In a flash, the man called off his dogs and lowered his gun. With a grin, he motioned for them to follow him. He ushered the trio into his private dining room and proceeded to cook a full-course meal just for them. Rolf, world-famous chef, who cooked for the entire cast of Out of Africa during the movie’s filming, served dinner to my friends.
This is the sort of place where things like that seem sure to happen.
My aesthetic brain explodes as I admire full-fledged manifestations of what the mosaic pavement only hinted at – glorious glass creations dripping from the ceiling. Commissioned by Kitengela Glass, a nearby glass factory, they, too, are a sneak-preview of our coming adventure.
We set out from Rolf’s Place for a fifteen-minute walk to Kitengela. Except that as we wander into the open fields, we go the wrong way.
And, of course, since this is an adventure outside the boundaries of normal reality, we encounter many dangerous animals and life-threatening vegetation.
Somehow we survive it all, and with a little help from the GPS system on my phone, we find the main road. Small, barely-there indicators alongside the path reassure us we are heading the right direction, even as we pass through a quaint Kenyan village that floods me with memories of my seven-and-half-month sojourn, living in “real Kenya” during my daughter’s adoption.
But now we face a new challenge, a road swamped with mud. For a moment, we intend to walk in the grass beside the road, but then consider the existence of dangerous animals well within the realm of reality, like cobras. Fortuitously, an SUV splashes our way and the driver stops to ask if we’d like a lift. Gratefully, we accept, and alight at a rutted but dry road on the edge of the Kitengela property.
From there, our adventure unfolds in a manner best told visually.
In one shop area, the cashier chases away a fearless invading monkey. In another, a crane waltzes our way. This one, the shop keeper indicates, belongs here.
“Of course they keep a pet crane,” my friend and I laugh together. “Why not?”
The creators of Kitengela thought, Why not? And then they did it.
And, because of Kitengela, I’m not the same.
Now that I am home, when I think of that magical day at Kitengela, it’s like I stumbled into the mirth of God, the enchantment of God, and it lodged like a parable, rumbling around and unfolding in my soul. Because of Kitengela, my dreams reach bigger and my imagination stretches further. I feel stronger to grab hold of what lies just beyond the realm of current reality, and to tug it persistently into the real, 3-D world.
You see, I’m dreaming of a place where orphans become lawyers to defend the vulnerable, and they become doctors to help the abandoned babies they once were. Where a child once viewed cursed by her community, because of the disabilities she was born with, becomes the joy of a tightly knit family. Where women cast aside by society and buried in violent slums, eking out daily survival, stitch vibrant fabrics and glorious futures. Where sons of broken refugees pile drab enclaves with brilliant designs until they become stairways to self-sufficiency and dignity.
If the unexpected brilliance of Kitengela can burst into this world, and into the mundane existence of impoverished East Africa, then why can’t my visions also become reality?
One day, in the middle of my dreams coming true, I will have a pet crane. He will strut proudly to greet visitors, his crown lifted high. And I will lovingly name him, “Why not?”