I learn so much about people on these trips.
Sanjib. I’ve known him four years – since he was a little boy. He often has a hesitant smile and you can see that in the top picture. He can be very shy and unsure. We had just gotten off a rollercoaster in that picture.
In the bottom photo, we had been playing swords with our plastic water bottles and he destroyed my bottle, my hand, and my pride. His smile here is full and complete. This is the power of play. Whatever it is that typically keeps Sanjib from fully smiling went away when we played a made-up game.
All games have rules. And one rule universal to all games is that kids will smile while playing games. There is no language barrier to joy. May God keep us young enough to play games until the day we die!
After spending all day at an amusement park here in Calcutta, Martha became so sad on the final ride. She didn’t want to go home.
Martha lives at a boarding school because her home situation is very complicated. And even though life is sometimes difficult for her, I’m reminded it is in the hard places where God really becomes our friend. Today’s sadness is tomorrow’s strength. May God comfort us all in the places we feel weak. And may he bless Martha with every good thing in the kingdom.
“Here’s what we used to do,” my buddy Piyas began. “When we were younger and in school, there would be some days when we didn’t want to study. All of the students usually arrived to the classroom before the teacher. So one of us, usually me, would take the blackboard off the wall – it looked very much like this blackboard here” [and he pointed to the blackboard pictured over his shoulder in this photo].
He continued, “We would take the blackboard and smash it on the ground and – BAM – we had a holiday from school. The teacher would come in and scold the entire class and demand to know who did it, but we had such unity that no one ever told. Unable to teach, she would send us home and we would play cricket or football the rest of the day. These are not good things, of course, but what to do? Kids are kids!”
I’m in a village about 90 minutes west of downtown Calcutta right now. It’s 12:44am and I’m looking at my suitcase. A group of wild dogs in the village begins howling in unison every hour or so, creating regular performances of The Canine Symphony. The great crew I traveled over here with left this afternoon and I’m laying here thinking about the last week and how this place has shaped me as a person.
This is the sixth trip my suitcase has made to India. It’s been rolled, dragged, dropped, pushed, and pulled all over this country.
It’s a nice bag, so it still looks pretty good and functions well. But there’s dirt on it, a couple nicks on the edges, and scratches on the plastic. It’s no problem though. That’s what a bag is made to do – protect the stuff inside from the stuff outside. It’s a dirty world!
Here’s the question: How often do we pack up our hearts in a suitcase and put it in a corner – so that our hearts AND our suitcase are never used, never nicked?
How often do we insulate ourselves from the world outside? From the “scary” world?
…this is for real. Life is happening. And it means everything.
_David Crowder Band – The Lark Ascending
Most especially it means things that involve the messy work of tangibly loving other people – whether that means the brotherhood and sisterhood of loving the poor or the closeness of a romantic relationship.
We guard our hearts from evil getting in. But we volunteer our hearts for love getting out. Don’t quiet your heart if you feel it raising its hand today. You may fear the unknown but don’t fuss with that. Love is always a good thing. That IS known. Walk in that way.