It was an everyday milk run. We snuck out after bedtime to make it this season’s version of a date. Somewhere between the tortilla presses and the plantains, we saw Maria.
Our neighbor has been fighting cancer for the last half-year. Each time I see her, it’s like the Lord turns his laser pointer on. Our interaction is sparse: my English prayers over her in private and Spanish greetings on the street. I saw her hats and headscarves progress to unabashed baldness. I told her she looked beautiful. She told me about her chemo port.
Lately, I open my arms with every hello. Latin culture pooh-poohs personal space. I don’t have enough words to explain my heart to her. I can only draw her near it for a moment now and then.
That night at the grocery store, she held on. We cried a little. Her Spanish flowed next to my cheek, blessing and thanking me for my love. God’s presence filled that embrace, speaking all the things I didn’t know how to say.
Her hair is growing back now, sparkly silver.
She invited me in the other day, my first time through the steel gate that safeguards her house. Seating me at her table, she shared her evening, her family, her life. She heaped a bowl with fruit salad, serving me a rainbow cut with her limited strength–topped with red jello, of course, for Costa Rican flair.
Stories flowed out as I nibbled and listened. How her grown daughter had stroked her bare scalp in the restless nights of her treatment, the love expressed in cool touch. Her sadness that we all seem to live behind closed doors in the neighborhood. We laughed that it was the mosquitoes’ fault. Prayers sought for her disability pension to be approved, kindly insights on the personalities of the block. Encouragement from the place of cancer, that the Lord is faithful in all things. Her face lit up when we talked gardening.
I went home with arms full of plant cuttings and the fruit I couldn’t finish. Humming with Spanish headache and unexpressed affection, I dove into my freezer. I recrossed the street with banana-craisin bread to sweeten her week the way she had mine. We thumped the language barrier again as I fumbled for the concepts of already-sliced and thaw-on-the-counter.
I may be hemmed in by verb tense and vocabulary, but God is not. He can work great things in the cheerful hello, in the how-are-you, in the hug in the grocery aisle.
Most of the time, what I do is more felt than seen: happy bellies, cleans sheets, a peacefully ordered home. This time the Lord let me feel some of what he is doing in my doing.
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. Matthew 10:42 NLT
How has the Lord surprised you with his movement in your everyday living?