Chapter 19 Adilah: Friends with Everyone?

Adilah was pleased to find that she was surrounded by trees again. She always felt safe in their shelter. Her new settlement was deep in a rainforest where the dwellings were built into the trees. They were connected by elevated walkways, above which the treetop canopy echoed with the calls of birds, monkeys and other creatures that she could not identify. Moving on from the familiarity of her previous village was an ordeal for Adilah, as apart from Harmony, Anne and her sister Eshe everyone was new to her. There were more skin tones than she knew existed, and although it was still an all-female community, the unknowns felt overwhelming.

“Live with me?” Adilah had asked Eshe when they had awoken on their first morning.

Eshe had nodded vigorously, and they had soon begun to feel more confident as they investigated what had been provided for them and set about making their treetop house feel like a home.

There was a knock at the door.

“Only us!” called out Harmony.

Adilah opened the door and her two friends stepped inside.

“Aren’t these houses just amazing?” exclaimed Harmony with her typical enthusiasm.

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

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

“It’s a leftover from the Previous Age,” said Anne. “I completely understand that I’m safe here, but if I were to fall, it would hurt 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.”

“We aren’t expected to be able to work out everything at once,” said Anne kindly. “This process is long and deep. It’s not good to say that things should be like this or like that. Being honest with ourselves and with each other is the path forward.”

“Where are these women from?” asked Eshe, looking out of the window at the hubbub of activity as people crossed the walkways and began exploring their new surroundings.

“From all over 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 your previous community. In order to keep growing, Jesus knows that we need to learn to relate to more people – to understand them and have them understand us. This group of women is just right for where you are on your journey.”

“I’m willing to trust that,” 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 overwhelmed by the move, but she was glad to see her sister’s resolve.

Just at that moment she caught sight of a pair of round orange eyes looking at her from outside the window. She put a hand on her beating heart and then laughed.

“Look!” she cried. “A bush baby! Can I touch him?”

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

Eshe tiptoed across the room to the open window until she was a couple of feet away from the small creature, which had its arms wrapped around a branch.

Reaching out a careful hand, Eshe lightly stroked the bush baby’s soft grey fluffy back. It didn’t move and continued to look up at her.

“Oh, you are such a darling!” she whispered with delight.

Her friends smiled, as they too were looking forward to getting to know their friendly animal neighbours.


Adilah was used to living near a jungle, but only at ground level. She found being up in the trees exciting but also a little nerve-racking. It was on the elevated walkways that she felt most tentative, but after a few days she began to trust the wood and rope structures that held everything together.

The climate was wetter than at their last settlement, with regular downpours of warm, fragrant rain that made the rich green leaves sparkle in the sunshine that always followed on close behind. The dwellings were made from bamboo and so perfectly designed that it was sometimes hard to see where the trees stopped and the structures began. Huge bromeliads and orchids hung from the branches, creating a wonderful aroma and a few hundred metres away a crystal-clear stream ran gurgling over rocks. The atmosphere was balmy, but Adilah was delighted to discover that up in the treetops cool refreshing breezes still found their way through the leaves.

It didn’t take long for the village to organise rotas for cooking and collecting water. Practical problems were soon addressed and 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 aware that one woman seemed to be constantly challenging her ideas and suggestions.

Mahala was a Native American from the Iroquois tribal region in northeastern America. Her older sister had married a settler, a man of English heritage, and she had learned English while 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 upright.”

Adilah turned around to see Mahala standing by a tree, watching her. Unsure of how to take her comment, Adilah nodded in greeting and carried on.

“You are a giraffe!” Mahala called after her.

Adilah put down her basket of guava and put her hands on her hips, unsure of how to reply.

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

“You are tall and graceful,” said Mahala, drawing near to her.

Adilah could not read anything in Mahala’s facial expression. She had thought she was being mocked, but now she was not so sure.

“Well, thank you… I think.”

“You always avoid me, Adilah. Why?” 

Adilah found Mahala’s direct manner confrontational but decided a peace offering would be the wisest move.

“You are like a mother bear,” she replied. “You are strong and fierce.”

A faint smile crossed Mahala’s face.

“You make me want to stay out of your way,” Adilah continued, grateful for the chance to clear the air between them.

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

Adilah was brought up short by the personal nature of the question.

“Unworthy of what? Unworthy of being friends with you?” she asked, unable to conceal her indignation.

“No, not just that. But in many ways. You don’t know how strong you are.”

Adilah felt both energised and confused by the strange mix of questions and observations coming from this woman with jet-black hair and reddish-brown skin. It made Adilah want to push back, like for like.

“And you don’t know how rude you sound,” she replied with firmness in her voice but with an accepting smile.

The two women stood looking at each other, unsure of whether the conversation was a face-off or an opportunity to bond.

Without saying another word, Mahala turned and walked away until she was swallowed up in the thick vegetation.

Adilah stood for a moment before picking up her basket 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 constructing a bedside table out of bamboo for her new home.

“I know, I only have a few people that I’m 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 some of her words today showed kindness.”

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

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

“That’s true,” laughed Anne, remembering the times that she and Harmony had disagreed with one another.  “Opposites attract, but very different ways of seeing, doing and being can mean that relating together is a challenge.”

“But why are we made to live with people who are so different? What if we never become friends?”

“Nobody should feel they have to be friends with everyone – it’s impossible anyway. But 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 will have learnt to love their neighbour and want the best for those around them, no matter who they are.”

“So loving my neighbour doesn’t mean that they have to be my best friend?”

“No, it’s important to make that distinction. Agape love is something much bigger than friendship. It may include liking someone and being their friend, but you can love someone without necessarily liking them that much.”

“Well, that’s a liberating thought,” said Adilah. “I’d never really seen it that way before, but I’ll make sure to keep it in mind when I next see Mahala.”

The two women continued their work, enjoying the companionship and easy conversation that flows in a friendship where loving and liking are intertwined.