Sunlight

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Okay, breathe.  

Too much hard stuff is going on.  A lot of people are upset.  People are arguing and fighting.  Reading social media no longer feels like a nice break or a way to connect with my far-away friends (or heckle my students).  I need to know what’s going on and at the same time, I’m responsible to keep my little boat afloat.  

My 9-year-old boy has lately taken up playing catch with a baseball and playing marbles.  We don’t have much space outside our house, so we’re playing catch about six feet apart.  One of these days, when he’s a little more confident, we’ll step outside our gate and play out on the “street,” where we’ve seen full-blown baseball games since we moved into this neighborhood.  

Last week, he went to the mercado and Kim bought him a bag of marbles.   They’re all clear with those little stripes through them, all the same size but one “shooter,” and the little bag came with instructions for different games of marbles.  Corin loves making up games and creating new rules for existing games.  He’s very creative:  he’s also constantly inventing things and loves to make origami Star Wars characters.  Of course, sometimes the new rules inordinately help his cause in a game, but a guy’s gotta try, right?  

There is an elderly man who lives in a house on a corner that I pass whenever I walk to school.  I jokingly call him my “lonely man there on the corner” (get the reference?) but he’s actually one of the bright spots of my days.  We call each other “Senor” and always call out a kind greeting to each other, unless he is sitting there napping in the sun.  He uses two canes to walk, the kind that have metal braces for his forearms, but I will see him propped up on those canes with a broom, sweeping the sidewalk in front of his house, or even with a shovel, trying to fill in some of the potholes on his corner.  

My children all have really good friends, the kind of friends we parents pray for.  None of them are experiencing bullying (three of them have in their lives) and, as well as I can tell, they all stick up for kids/people who are picked on.  

I have honest people in my life who love me and speak truth to me.  I don’t just have people who love me but won’t tell me when I have mustard on my face–or am acting like a jackass–and I don’t just have people who are honest and more than happy to tell me what they don’t like about me.  

My friend Juan Ramon, who worked for us for several years and is one of my absolute favorite people, finally got a job as a pastor!  It’s not well-paying–I’d call it the opposite–and it will be a serious challenge, a tiny, poor church in a very rough barrio.  But he has felt called to pastoral ministry for many years and my hope as we have employed him and done what we can to support his family has always been to see this happen.  Remember, unemployment in Nicaragua is 50% and simply supporting one’s family can be difficult or nearly impossible.  I call this one of the biggest answers to prayer I’ve seen since we moved here!  

This year, a guy who graduated last June has been an assistant soccer and basketball coach.  He is an amazingly great young man–when he was a player, I spoke so highly of him one of the other coaches joked that I was his agent.  But due to financial aid issues–and, in my humble opinion, getting jerked around by the college he hoped to attend–he had not been able to start school, though he was qualified and accepted.  One of the other teachers here came up with a brilliant idea–he asked the guy to be his teaching assistant and is paying him by covering an online course so that the guy can get started on his college coursework.  What an empowering idea!  Not charity, but a chance to get some classroom experience and make progress on his education instead of feeling stuck!  Beautiful.  

Every day, I see young people taking risks to grow and become better people, to face the pain and craziness in their lives, to figure out how to love in a world full of hatred.  And some of them aren’t very good at it yet.  But they’re growing.  

Finally, deep inside, I’m feeling a shifting.  I don’t know how big it is yet.  It may just be that my work on forgiving* some people is starting to seep through, which is in itself a big deal.  It may be tectonic plates doing some major movement.  Maybe I’ll have some new continental configurations soon and won’t recognize myself.  I would describe a significant portion of my time in Nicaragua as, to a lesser or greater extent, just surviving spiritually.  Even though I’m still wrestling with some of the same issues–perhaps I always will–I’m also having a breakthrough of some sort.  I really don’t think it’s just the chocolate…because I haven’t eaten any chocolate (yet) today.  At forty-eight, a breakthrough is exciting.  If I can figure out what it is, I’m sure I’ll write about it.  That’s one part of the breakthrough, actually.  

I know I’m privileged, because the bad things happening have not directly hurt or ruined my life.  I’m not trying to stick my head in the sand or wear rose-colored glasses.  Many things are horrible right now and we need to respond as faithfully and courageously as we can.  What I’ve shared doesn’t change that…but they matter.  They are patches of sunlight in my world.  Part of our response needs to be encouraging one another and spreading hope.  

Though a decent number of people read my blog, I don’t get many comments, but I’m asking for this one:  What sunlight can you see in your life right now?  

P.S.  I’ve been happier this week since I stopped, almost completely, reading the arguments “comments” on Facebook.  

 

*If you don’t think of forgiveness as work, either your heart is a whole lot bigger and better than mine, or…you have more work to do.  

15 thoughts on “Sunlight

  1. Sunlight: I’m grateful for the opportunity to go to my favorite work conference in Washington, DC area — and I’m ecstatic that my manager is sending my brilliant coworker to help with one of the presentations. She already has the outline charted out, and it’s beautiful. What a gift from God, and a relief to me.
    In addition, there’s all my wonderful family members, like Tim who cooked and worked on our taxes today. . . and you (Mike) and all the others. I’m extremely thankful that technology makes it possible for us to pour out our hearts and also laugh at cartoons together, with mom! I love hearing from her, Annalise, Lydia, Kim. . . and other relatives and friends. I’m happy that I have money for a gym membership, and that it’s usually empty while I’m getting more comfortable there. Ha! I’m thrilled that there are always wonderful new books to discover. I’m not sure if there’s a word-limit for comments, so I’ll stop there. LOL

  2. Evelyn Williams

    Sunlight! Finding some through a cloudy snowy winter here in Central Wash. Takes some serious thought and serious reflections. My sunlight is my family that is near me every day. Waking up to a 5 year old near by is such a joy. Sunlight is the good mental and physical health that Rick and I are both able to experience at 70. My sunlight is the talent God gave me of teaching young children, and the job I presently enjoy of watching special needs and peer children play and progress together in my classroom. Sunlight is the smile on my face at the end of each day as I pray “thank you Lord”.

  3. Beverlee

    Some rays of sunlight today: Seeing our 2 year old granddaughter learning how to socialize at the park – leaning in, but not too near, trying to figure out those ‘signals’ that aren’t very clear at this age. What a joy!
    3 cars, 3 people, physically able to empty out a storage unit and transfer the contents to an empty garage. The garage was empty because we gave the car away, making 2 people very happy (one being our daughter, who didn’t have to pay
    storage fees any longer and the other was a very hard working friend who was delighted to receive a car that was
    more reliable than her own.) Finally, California and rain don’t seem to go together, but God has been good to us. In between storms we have had beautiful cold, clear, bright weather so we are doubly blessed! Sunshine, love it!

  4. Karla Dykhuis

    While in a holding pattern we have sunny weather here in Yuma, Az. I am thankful I was already here in AZ before jetting off to Nicargua when my daughter received news she needed serious surgery. I don’t know what our future will be, but knowing a loving God holds it is a comfort and plenty of sunshine for me.

  5. Steve Murdock

    My sunlight everyday, even in gloomy winter of the Midwest? The blessings God has given (family, friends, health, etc) including the few minutes of prayer and meditation I’ve found to begin every busy day.

  6. BettySue

    Sunshine – studying Mark 15-16 to teach on Monday – so much to ponder and rejoice in.
    – An unexpected anonymous financial gift arrived yesterday. Sometimes that means that God has some significant travel coming up that I’m not currently aware of.
    – That my 10 year old grandson is rapidly recovering well from a rather serious concussion.
    Thanks for asking

  7. Loren

    My sunshine: your Phil Collins reference.

    Also, my boys are getting along incredibly well lately. Things were getting pretty tense for a while, but we all took a deep breath, read a few books on sibling rivalry, and changed some things. I’m amazed at how much has changed in the past week or two. They are like different people. As a fellow quadripatriarch, I’m sure you can relate.

  8. Sunlight: Getting to experience a beautiful sunrise outside my window yesterday morning (for a picture of it go to my blog tomorrow – http://www.bethanyhonsinger.com). Sunlight: Being able to share and identify with a friend last night as we talked through some of the issues facing our world/nation right now (especially since I don’t get that same level of connection from some of those people closest to me right now). Sunlight: holding my nanny kiddos’ little hands as we walk to the park or to pick up an older brother from school as well as experiencing their unceasingly curiosity and enjoyment of life. Sunlight: Feeling loved and lifted up by all my friends and family on my birthday weekend. Thanks for offering us the opportunity to think about these things!

  9. Pat

    So good to read the more positive experience that you have. With all the challenging things you are facing & dealing with, it can probably be easy to see the negative side of it. Stay with the positive.

  10. Rob Ross

    Sunlight – my tremendous family and wonderful friends, constant provision for all needs and then some, the opportunity and ability to serve others through work and church and in the community, and certainly my health as well (despite some question marks with that right now).

  11. Sunlight for me this week (in addition to the literal sunshine that is a daily part of my South Florida life) has been:

    1. watching my 14-year-old son spend hours pouring over a letter to our representative and senators speaking out on behalf of immigrants and refugees

    2. Being honored with the opportunity to write a letter and gather pictures for the mother of one of the children in my ministry to help her with her visa application

    3. Having my kindergarten daughter start writing me daily notes telling me how wonderful she thinks I am and how much she loves me…

    Ha! I just realized all these example involve the written word!

    Thank you, Mike, for your blog. I faithfully read it and get much encouragement from it!

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