The day after I arrived home last week I sought out a quiet place to absorb, to process, give thanks. Our five kids plus about 10 of our faithfully enthusiastic neighbors had asked permission to go to our property’s mango tree to see if there was any ripe fruit, so as the kids bounded out our front gate like a tribe of wild indians, I breathed deep, watching them go, and treasured in my heart each of their steps so marked by freedom and joy, standing in such stark contrast to the general oppression and depravity in our neighborhood and world.
There is a hymn that says that Jesus’ love is vast, unmeasured, boundless, free. I felt as though in that moment I could actually see just how boundless and free that love is as I watched the kids leap across our large property.
As I stood on our front porch watching them go, having already given more than a half-dozen haircuts to shaggy boys, flinging little people around in the hammock, and wiggling my way into wayward teens’ hearts, I could only think to go be alone to treasure all that I had seen before it somehow flitted away from my memory.
So I walked into our Education House’s schoolroom and sat atop a small cement half-wall that divides the rectangular room in two, trying to hide myself in the folds of Christ’s love while contemplating all that He is. As my eyes travelled to a newly pinned-up poster that our sister Jenae had taped on the wall above the whiteboard, I read it, lost in a rare sense of wonder, and could only let out a small breath, staring around the empty schoolroom and saying, “I can see you here. Lord, I can see you here.”
The quote, written in large, block letters on purple construction paper and sprinkled here and there with glitter, read: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson)
My thoughts shifted and settled as I remembered one of many things that had happened that morning. A very precious neighbor of ours, a 13-year-old boy who comes from a poor agriculturalist family with about 10 or so siblings and who himself is the size of about an 8-year-old due to malnutrition, mentioned to me while I was clipping his hair that his dad had been offered a “chopping job” (mowing a large piece of terrain with noting more than a machete) for 1,000 Lempiras (which is the equivalent of about $50), he had completed the job after many days of labor (and as the only breadwinner in his family), and then the man who had hired him decided not to pay him.
These kinds of stories are not uncommon for our ears and hearts, although for me it was after having come from visiting a country that can afford better care for its dogs than Honduras can for some of its children. I looked at him, my eyes asking the question that we both already knew the answer to, and he said matter-of-factly, “Yeah, we don’t have any food. We didn’t eat last night and haven’t eaten yet today.”
I then took my turn saying what we both already knew because it is now a rhythm of sharing and love that the Lord has etched among us, a deep rut within the selfishness of our souls where His vast, unmeasured love can flow freely: “You know breakfast will be ready shortly.”
“…And my mom asked if you would –”
“Yes. We’ll send home some food. Don’t worry.”
His undersized 10-year-old brother just received his haircut and two of his sisters are running around our home somewhere.
So last week as my husband and I walked up the long, rocky road to our home together for the first time in over three weeks, everything seemed a less brilliant shade of green, the rocks somehow seemed bigger, and I was hit with a sobering sensation of re-entering a very real battlefield in a hidden little corner of the world where life and death literally hang in the balance.
Sweat poured down my temples and I had to watch my steps so as not to land in a cow patty along the winding path, excitement pulsing through my veins to be seeing the kids for the first time in weeks, although also fully aware that long, demanding days and possibly sleepless nights laid ahead on this journey that has only just begun.
So that first night back home I bathed under cold water from our shower head that drips rather than sprays and laid down in our double-bed, dripping in sweat even though I had just come from the shower, and I remembered that He who has called us is vast, unmeasured, boundless, free in His love for us, and that even if I cannot sleep at night I can rest in Him.