one of my fondest memories at my grandmother’s house as a child was during a snow storm. i grew up outside the city limits and we were often without power if a big snow hit. my grandma’s house was tucked away inside the grand city of Lebanon, where somehow she was not as prone to outages–probably due to the protection of closer buildings, less wind and drifting of snow, presence of snow plows–and we went there to stay warm while we waited.
i remember late nights there, sitting on the couch in front of her big, wide-open front window. i was amazed at how orange the sky looked as the night lights reflected off the snow. if i let my imagination run free, i could imagine that it was actually light enough to be day. i think deep down, i was mostly amazed that such life seemed to be happening in the middle of the night, in the midst of a snow storm. life was happening amidst the chaos.
before we left for this trip, my roommate said:
“the seed sprouts in the scar.”
on further prompting, she explained a Wendell Berry poem, where he describes how the earth must be scarred, must be turned over and over, and the land looking nothing as it did before the plowing. but how that also must happen for a seed to be planted and grow. she thought this was fitting for the current state of our group, that we may be scarred, but there is always great promise for new growth.
that is my summation of my time in Tijuana, as well. to say God was present seems not-enough; so much was birthed there that it is hard to yet see all the fruits. we walked the red light district and looked into the eyes of teenage prostitutes. we sat on tree stumps in the bottom of the dump, the city dump turned neighborhood and talked about life. we played with the most beautiful kids in the world. we were Jesus and we met Jesus in them. it is almost too much to explain, so i will share just one story.
as we walked through the dump (literally, it was once a working dump, has been covered with dirt, and now many who have found no other place to call home, have built a house in the dump and try their best to make a life), a man and his wife came up beside us. the had just come from deep in the dump. he explained that she was feeling down, so he took her there to see if they could find a plant to bring back to their home. sure enough, in the center of her palm, she cradled a beautiful, freshly sprouted plant.
they showed us their home, and shared how the recent storms had washed rocks through the wall and over the beds of their sons. they had only just the day before been able to clear the house of rocks and reestablish the back wall. they warmly invited us in to see.
we shared this story with the woman in charge of the orphanage later. she told us she had a church group coming in soon to build a house, and she needed a family to allocate it to. the next morning, we delivered the good news. by Feb. 5th, this family will have a new home. a beautiful plant sprouts in the dump, and the seed sprouts in the scar, and a redeeming Creator blesses his broken people with good gifts.