Chapter 19 Adilah: Friends?

Adilah was very pleased to find that she was still surrounded by trees. She always felt safe in their shelter. Her new settlement was deep in a jungle, with houses built into the trees. Hammocks and elevated walkways connecting the dwellings were constructed above the ground. The sounds of teeming life rang through the air under the canopy of leaves. It was a priority for Adilah to be scanning the environment for signs of comfort. Being made to move on from their previous village was an upsetting ordeal for her.

Harmony and Anne were in this community, and Eshe was still by her side, but everyone else was new to her. There were more skin tones than she knew existed and although it was still all female, the number of unknowns was almost overwhelming.

“Live with me?” said Adilah to Eshe.

Eshe nodded vigorously.

They were soon feeling a lot more secure as they investigated what had been provided for them and began to make their tree-top house feel like a home.

There was a knock at the door.

“Only us,” called Harmony.

Adilah opened the door and the two friends stepped inside.

“Aren’t these houses just amazing?” enthused Harmony, typically loud.

“They make me a little nervous,” laughed Anne. “I don’t like heights.”

“Are you allowed to be scared?” asked Eshe.

“It’s a left over from the Previous Age,” said Anne. “I completely understand that I’m ultimately safe here. But if I were to fall, I would hurt myself for a few days, and that’s never pleasant.”

“Everything new is an unknown, and it’s normal to feel unsure. That’s why we keep reminding ourselves about Agape Love,” said Harmony. “That’s why we spend time thinking upon all that is good, and beautiful around us.”

“Remember, we aren’t supposed to have everything worked out quickly,” said Anne kindly. “This process is long and deep. We mustn’t say that things should be this or that. Honesty with ourselves, and each other, is the path forward.”

“Where are these women from?” asked Eshe, looking out of the window at the hubbub of activity in the surrounding dwellings and walkways.

“Across the Earth and across history. You will get to know them in time, but they are all women who have been through difficult circumstances in the Previous Age, just as in the previous community.”

“Why couldn’t we stay together with those from the last village?”

“In order to keep growing, Jesus knows that we need to understand more people, and have them understand us. This group of people is just right for where you are on your journey.”

“I trust in this,” said Adilah with conviction.

Anne looked her in the eye and smiled kindly.

“This is the way forward for all of us. Choosing to trust, come what may. It won’t always be easy, but if we trust in the bigger picture of growing to live through Agape Love, then we can get through anything.”

Eshe remained silent, still feeling rather overwhelmed by the move, but was glad to see Adilah’s resolve.

Just at that moment Eshe caught sight of something out of the window facing into the branches and jumped. She put a hand on her beating heart and then laughed.

“Aaaaaagh!” she cried. “Look!”

Looking back at her with wide orange eyes was a bush baby, its arms wrapped around a branch.

“Can I touch him?” Eshe asked Anne.

“It’s not up to me,” said Anne. “Why don’t you approach him? Animals here aren’t afraid of humans.”

Eshe crept gingerly across the room to the open window until she was a couple of feet away from the little furry creature, who had maintained her gaze.

Reaching out a careful hand while her other was still on her chest, Eshe lightly touched the bush baby’s fluffy back. The creature didn’t move and continued to look up at Eshe.

“Oh, I love him!” she exclaimed.

Adilah laughed with her friend and was also delighted by the prospect of friendly animal neighbours.

Adilah was used to living near a jungle, but only at ground-level. Being up in the trees was both exciting and nerve-wracking. It was on the elevated walkways that she felt most tentative, but after a few days she was beginning to trust the wood and rope structures that held everything together.

The climate was wetter than the last settlement, with regular downpours of warm, fragrant rain. The richly green leaves would shine when wet and reflect the many colours that decorated the sky above. Abundant animal and bird life could be seen all around the dwellings, which were made from bamboo. It was hard to see sometimes where the trees stopped and the structures began, they were so perfectly built into the environment. Huge orchids and similarly strongly scented flowers gave the whole place a wonderful aroma. A few hundred metres away a crystal-clear stream ran gargling over rocks. The atmosphere was balmy, and Adilah was thrilled that cool breezes still found their way through the jungle to lightly refresh the villagers.

It didn’t take long for the women to organise themselves into a rota for cooking and providing water. There was an intuition in their community that meant practical problems were soon addressed. This pleased Adilah greatly as organisation was important to her. She even found that several of the women deferred to her on decisions, which made her feel useful and respected. However, Adilah was beginning to feel that one woman was deliberately subverting her ideas and instructions.

Mahala was a Native American woman from the Iroquois tribal region in Northeast America. Her older sister had married a settler; a man of English heritage and had learned English when caring for their children. Mahala was a strong and determined woman, with a direct way of talking that many found rude.

“Ha! Adilah! You walk like a giraffe. So proud and bendy. You look so funny.”

Adilah turned around to see Mahala stood behind a tree, watching her. Unsure of how to take her comment, Adilah flashed an insincere smile and carried on.

“You are a giraffe,” continued Mahala.

Adilah put down her box of guava and put her hands on her hips, unsure of what to say in reply.

“I don’t know why you say this to me, why am I like a giraffe?”

“You are tall and graceful,” said Mahala, her facial expression unchangingly blank.

Mahala’s remarks changed Adilah’s mind from being mocking to being complimentary.

“Oh, ok. Thank you… I think.”

“You always avoid me, Adilah. Why?” said Mahala, still unreadable.

Adilah felt confronted but decided a peace offering would be the wisest move.

“You are like a mother bear,” said Adilah, returning the animal comparison. “You are strong and fierce.”

Mahala cracked the faintest smile.

“You make me want to stay out of your way,” continued Adilah, rather enjoying the chance to clear the air.

Mahala pushed back. “But look, we are here together, and we are equal. Why do you think yourself unworthy?”

Adilah was stopped short by the personal nature of the question.

“Unworthy of what? Being friends with you?” she replied, trying to contain her offence at the assumption.

“Not just of that, but in many ways. You don’t know how strong you are, do you?”

Adilah was energised and a little confused by the strange mix of direct questions and encouraging words coming from this feisty woman, with her jet-black hair and amazing reddish-brown skin. There was something about her way that made Adilah want to push back, like for like.

“You don’t know how rude you sound,” she said, being firm in her tone, but saying her words with a warm smile.

The two women stood looking one another over, unsure of whether this conversation was a face-off or a bonding session.

Without saying another word, Mahala turned and walked away back into the thick jungle vegetation.

Adilah stood for a moment, watching her disappear before picking up her box and continuing back to the settlement, all the while wondering what to make of this curious woman.


“It’s ok not to be friends with everyone,” said Anne as she worked with Adilah on a large table they were building.

“I know, I only have a few that I am sure are my real friends, but…” Adilah paused as if trying to find the words. “I think she is a good person. She is so different from me, but she showed me kindness today.”

“That’s a great place to start,” said Anne. “Harmony is very different to me, in every way,” she added, “yet we have become like sisters.”

“Sisters don’t always get on either,” observed Adilah.

“That is also true, and perfectly normal,” laughed Anne, remembering some of the times she and Harmony had had disagreements.  “Opposites attract, but they can also struggle with the very different ways of seeing, doing and being.”

“Why must we be made to live with those so different. What if we never become close friends?”

“I think that’s ok,” said Anne. “Nobody should feel they have to be friends with everyone – that’s impossible anyway. However, Agape Love is very different from friendship. Jesus taught us to love our neighbour, not the whole world. Eventually the whole world will feel loved because everyone has learnt to love their neighbour, to want the best for each person around them, no matter who they are.”

“I agree but loving my neighbour doesn’t mean they have to be my best friend.”

“Indeed, it’s an important distinction to make. Unfailing, Agape Love is something that is bigger than friendship. Of course, friendship and liking people is within it, but you can love someone without necessarily liking them that much.”

“Wow, that is so liberating,” said Adilah.