You Are In Front of My Face
A book that is definitely at the top of the list of books I have read (or more accurately, listened to) this year is The Monk of Mokha. The book recounts the journey of Yemini-American Mohktar Alkhanshali, a twenty-four-year-old doorman in San Francisco, who learns about the rich history of coffee in Yemen and travels there to help the country recover its place as a coffee exporter. Of course, any book that intertwines two of my favorite things (coffee and culture) is usually a win for me, but this was a joy to read.
In one chapter there is a unique Yemeni expression that has stuck with me. At the end of book three, Eggers writes:
“You’re in front of my face,” he said every day.
It was an old Yemeni expression, hard to translate into English. It was something you said to a loved one, to a friend, while pointing to your own face. It meant that the person before you was never out of your vision. That you kept them foremost in your mind.
You’re in front of my face. What a beautiful phrase to express the gift of remembering someone. I think that as Christians, we sometimes use the phrase “I’ll be praying for you” as our slight nod to this idea. But how often do we actually make good on that promise more than once? How do we keep people in front of our faces and in our prayers? How do we remember those who may feel isolated and disconnected, like missionaries or national leaders globally, in ways that help them know they are not forgotten? These are questions that go around and around in my head. I hope you have found rhythms that help you keep people in front of your face and in your prayers.