The sun is shining as it rises over the hills and volcanoes. The birds are singing a symphony. The morning is fresh and new, full of sparkling mercy, grace and love – just waiting to be shared and experienced. I wish I could bottle this moment, for it is a perfect reminder of the wonder of our God.
We leave Eagle’s Nest today to return to Guatemala City, where we will rest and prepare for our journey home. If all goes well, we will stop in Antigua to see the beautiful monasteries and cobblestone streets of the artisan community. And I will hunger to see the wrinkled faces and hold the withered hands of the elderly at Cabecitas de Algodon (the Little House of Cottontops). They, like the orphans and the poor here, have been discarded. But unlike the children who have found love on top of the mountain at Eagle’s Nest, they wait for any familiar face to come. And no one comes. I will see them in October, hold them and call them Abuelita and Abuelo. I, too, know what it feels like to be alone. And I know what it feels like to be embraced by new family.
While here, we’ve painted classrooms, built a little library, built a bus stop, painted playground equipment, taught swimming lessons, cut hair, played with orphans, laughed with the poor, cleaned and straightened and breathed in every moment. And I’ve got that feeling that haunts me at the end of every journey like this – the “just one more moment, please” ache. I’ve come to savor it, embrace it, cherish it. For it reminds me I’m truly alive.
A story was shared with us yesterday. I thought you might like it. It’s from Mike Yaconelli, founder of Youth Specialties. He passed away in 2004, but his ministry and legacy live on. I pray the wonder never ends.
It was one of those snowfalls you never forget. Millions of white flakes filled the air, quieting the earth and swallowing the sounds. The resulting silence was thick with a texture you could feel. My nephew stood in the living room at the opening to our deck, a stranger to snow. his two years of life about to be altered irrevocably. His eyes were blank, unaware; his body clueless; his mind about to be overloaded with the electricity of discovery.
In the dark, Mother had maneuvered herself onto the deck’s two feet of snow to capture the event on video. Dad manned the sliding door, which had been unlatched for quick opening into the darkness. Uncle’s hands were poised on the switch to light the deck. And Aunt was ready to lift her nephew into the mysterious new world of twinkling ice and frozen softness.
The moment arrived.
In a perfectly timed instant the deck lights went on, the camera started recording, the sliding door swept open, and a two-year old was transported from the world he knew to a world he had never seen.
Wonder filled the air.
His eyes stretched wide with astonishment, as though the only way to apprehend what he was seeing was for his eyes to become big enough to contain it all. He stood motionless, paralyzed. It was too much for a two-year-old, too much for an any-year-old (too often, when a person gets older, the person’s “too-much detector” malfunctions, corroded by busyness and technology). He twitched and jerked each time a snowflake landed on his face, feeling it tingle as it was transformed from hostile cold to friendly warmth, caressing his face with tiny droplets of water. Just behind his large eyes you could see sparks flying from the crosscurrents of millions of electric stimuli overwhelming the circuit breakers of his previously small world. His mind was a confusion of strange, conflicting realities: white, cold, floating, flying, tingling, electric, landing, touching, sparkling, melting – causing an overload so great, so overwhelming, he fell backward – a slow-motion landing in the billowy whiteness, the snow tenderly embracing him. He had given up trying to understand snow and had given in to experiencing snow.
It was a moment of wonder.
The more I think about it, it was a moment of dangerous wonder. My nephew’s awe and wonder caused him to surrender to the snow by falling into it. For a few magical seconds, the danger of snow had given way to the wonder of snow. For a brief moment my nephew came face-to-face with life at its fullest. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, to be afraid or happy. My nephew experienced what it must be have been like that first moment in Eden when Adam and Eve’s eyes could not comprehend the staggering beauty of God’s new creation. He experienced what it must have been like when the scales fell from the blind man’s eyes and the explosion of color and shapes bombarded his mind for the first time; when the leper felt a surge of electricity through his body, his dead and rotting skin suddenly transformed into the fresh skin of a baby; when the bitter, hopeless prostitute looked up fully expecting judgment and death and instead heard the words of forgiveness and life.
What moments? What holy moments! To be in the presence of God, frightened and amazed at the same time! To feel as if you are in the presence of Life itself, yet with your soul shaking in both fear and gratitude.
I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in the dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.