I think something of beauty and human flourishing are one and the same, and the heart of God’s work through Jesus is reconciliation and human flourishing. It is so easy to let anger, self-righteousness and even violence lead, but beauty takes time, thought, patience – something superna
tural – a transformed heart.
- Sara Groves, from "Why It Matters..."
Noise often drowns it out. A four-wheeler rumbles by in front of my house- I hear the engine vroom and the bass beat thump and the rider shout and the gravel grind as it ascends the short hill. In this season, I hear the rattattats, boys in my neighborhood practicing their drum cadence for the upcoming saint day celebration. Far in the background, I hear a train horn sound a long waaaaank as freight rumbles through town, even though the tracks are almost a mile south. I hear the whumpwhumpwhump of a helicopter overhead. Sometimes I hear the poppoppop of a gun shot in the distance.
Distractions can drown it out. My eye follows the speeding or saggy or sputtering vehicle, but forget to notice the people inside. I see the broken wall, but not the tree blooming beside it. Dust covers the streets, sometimes only browngray dirt, sometimes deep black mud. Trucks filled with garbage, not a garbage truck like from your neighborhood, but dingy pickup trucks overloaded and loaded down with garbage, lose bits and pieces of their load while passing by in front of my house on the way to the dump. Smoke covers the high blue skies in a choky smoggy haze.
Situation might also drown it out. Boys care for toddler brothers, girls carry diapered cousins, and kids wander the neighborhood in a pack. I don't look far to see substandard housing, walls constructed of pallets, front entryways concealed by blankets not doors, and roofs covered with old billboard canvases. I smell, and regularly see, sewage coming up where it shouldn't. I wonder about the cadre of state police parked on the corner. I pass a group of wide-eyed people wearing life vests waiting at a crossroad.
But despite it all, the beauty, it is always there, always waiting to be noticed, always waiting to be celebrated. Hear the giggles of delight, the high-pitch saludos of a a waving jumping always in motion child, the upbeat tempo of the conjunto sounding from an unseen stereo speaker. See the brilliant pink blooms of the bouganvilla reach for the sun, the irridescent crown of a rooster flash in the sunlight, the wide smiles which cross the kids' faces when they show us their work. Notice the bright yellow door set in the wall you pass every single day, the mare tethered in the field who turns to nuzzle her colt, skies that fade to chalky pastel pink as the sun sets below the horizon. Celebrate the neighbor kids and their casual handshake fist bump greeting, the girl who asks for a bag so her mom can do the art project too, the earnest work of a boy committing the memory verse to heart and then giving his prize to his brother.
Capture the moment in the glow of the streetlight at dusk after finding the friend who moved a handful of streets down the road. Save it deep in your memory and in your heart. Be patient for the hope of change, for transformation, for reconciliation, for restoration. Thankfully praise our God once again, He who is making all things new.
(photo credit to my dear Kimberly Kaiser)