Today I walked my dog our usual route around the dirt roads that surround the community where I live. I was awakened from deep thought by someone whistling at me: whistling, like a man would whistle at a hot babe.
Looking up, I saw him: a myna bird, sitting on the top of an acacia tree. Africa is filled with a great variety of birds. It also is famous for the beautiful parasol tree, the acacia.
When I first got here, I couldn't pass by an acacia without stopping to look at it.
Today I almost missed it.
We've now been here in Johannesburg for four years. We've just become permanent residents, actually wading through the oceans of paperwork that Home Affairs had for us, and giving us a new page and a new permit in our passport.
Today, the whistle of this little bird woke me up. How much beauty have I missed while I have been accolpishing ordinary short-term goals that I had allowed to dominate my life? While I live my life in the purpose of helping others, had I forgotten how to deeply appreciate their beauty?
Little details of beauty spotted my day today. I visited a local preschool to take pictures for a newsletter we were circulating. Its principal, Petros, is a friend of ours. He works closely with us at our local church, and is a joy to be around.
Petros' life is pretty much taking care of the little details of children's lives in Northern Johannesburg, on a picturesque plot of land bordering a local township.The preschool he runs is called Mother Touch Academy, dedicated to providing kids with low cost and high quality education for the children of working parents.Because of its nature, it has evolved into a very strong spiritual influence as well.
In the effort to provide care for the children of working parents, Mother Touch has essentially accepted the fact the the low-cost offer of care will sometimes be "no cost" if the parents lose their jobs, or fail to have a contract renewed. This is commonplace among the working poor here in South Africa, where you can be employed on Monday and out of a job on Thursday. Rather than removing the kids from school, Mother Touch allows the children to stay enrolled, while the parents pay what they can until they find employment. Reality: the school is not a money making operation, but more of a ministry.
When I got to the school today, it was naptime, and all of the kids were on blankets on the floor either sleeping or trying to sleep. Usually, the swarming, noisy kids are erupting with life and posing for the camera, so I was touched by their angelic faces as they slept. They reminded me of my own kids at that age.
Maybe that is what touched me.
I realized, during the picture taking, that most of these kids were like mine, born in to a less than perfect world, but all wanting to have fun with each other and have a secure life. Their friends were their friends and their families were their family. There was no complicated facts that polluted their day to day life.
What they did know, even at this age, was that their world was one of poverty, and many times their most nutritious meal would be here, "at school". The formative years of these laying still were being changed by the small glimpses of safety and refuge, in the form of this nursery.
I made small talk with Petros, who walked me out to my car as I left. I exited the property and drove through the township, seeing the stark contrast between the quiet naptime of Mother Touch and the noisy streets of Diepsloot.
As I write, I am wide awake to the beauty of Jesus' life, lived through us, devoted to touching others with His love in the form of little acts of kindness.