I have mentioned before that I am trying to grow in relationship with a woman in our community. It is hard for her to communicate with adults comfortably; she rarely makes eye contact, speaks in a monotone, and uses as few words as possible. But she lights right up when she talks with children. I always bring Little Warrior with me when I visit because he is not daunted by her different-ness, and she adores him.
Early last week I stopped by her house, at her request. The fact that she even asked was a huge breakthrough and blessing. In the course of our conversation I learned that her birthday was coming up. I had my mission!
A few days later the children made cards, while I made cookies and wrapped a gift. It happened that I was taking care of some young friends that day, so I asked their mom if they could come along too. They received permission, made a card as well, and we all strapped into the van for some serenading. She was on the porch beaming by the time all five children had tumbled from their seats. We marched up the stairs and sang happy birthday, then gave her her cards and gifts. She practically sparkled.
After church yesterday I was chattering away, and noticed my new friend standing nearby. I tried to draw her into the conversation by talking about the children singing to her. To my amazement, she smiled again. This was the very first time I had seen her smile with only adults present. I can't express how moved I was by that smile. I believe she was seeing the children again, as if they were there with her. Their presence in her memory, the pure and unconditional love that they showed her, were real for her, and lasting.
And for me, when I think of her, I no longer see a downcast woman sitting in a chair at church, not speaking to anyone, and barely responding when people talk to her. I see her as I believe she truly is deep down under the thick walls that pain has built. I see her with twinkling eyes, a big smile, a sparkly gold tooth... standing on that broken porch looking at five children who know Jesus, singing their sweet hearts out just for her. I see her receiving a gift that I cannot offer, but that He gave her through them. I see joy.
Oh these sprinkles, how they are pouring back on me!