I came home from praying with "my people"...my small group from church that gathers weekly to pray for each other, and I opened Facebook on my phone, which at 9:30pm, is usually a mistake. Tonight, however, was different. Some of the things we had prayed about together were really hard, really heavy...involving a lot of pain/isolation/division/disease/violence that is our world these days...the fact that hope is often hard to see.
Then, on "the Facebook," I watched this (posted in my feed by Nicholas Kristof, a NYTimes journalist who I respect).
Now. Let me get a few things out of the way: dramatic video production designed to invoke emotion? yes. any idea if this story is legit? no. Do I think Patrick lived everyday prior to beginning to learn sign language without a genuine smile on his face like you're meant to believe in the video? no. Does it bother me that the camera gets all up in this boy's face who clearly wishes it wouldn't? YES! (He can't hear but for goodness sakes, he can SEE!) Is this clip even more emotive for me having lived in Uganda (and in neighboring South Sudan which visually looks and likely culturally is much more similar to Patrick's village than the part of Uganda where I lived)? yes. BUT, all that said, this story still has immense power.
Have you ever had a life experience that distances you from those around you? That makes you feel alone? That separates you from community?
Do you know anyone who has a disabling condition of any kind? Who feels isolated because of it for whatever reason? Who you long for a community of genuinely common ground for?
Have you ever hoped to see people empowered to serve a community of people like them in a life-giving way - both for them and their community?
Have you ever experienced a moment of breakthrough in someone's life? Have you ever had the honor of watching a person come alive in a way they haven't before? Have you ever had the privilege of catching a glimpse of a downcast person smiling? Of a sick child made well? Of an outcast finding a unique role? Of someone finding someone else who gets it?
It's utterly amazing. Jaw dropping. Tear jerking. Breath taking. Awe inspiring. Flabbergasting. absolutely incredible. These, my people, are powerful moments in life. Moments which need to be recognized. Moments which need celebrated. Moments which have the power to unite all of us in the desire for more like them.
These stories, like Patrick's are happening everyday, all over the world. They're just as real as the war torn, pain-filled, heart wrenchingly sad stories we hear...and the reality is, they're often intertwined with such pain...because it seems to me that it's true when they say that the most beautiful things come from the most painful...it's the pain that *makes* them beautiful.
There are tears streaming down my face as I sit writing...so much of this that I long for in my mom's story...so much of this that I long for in communities I've had the honor and privilege of calling home in Uganda and South Sudan...so much of this that I miss about daily life in those places...so much that I love about how wonderfully powerful smiles can be.