We sat on the covered canvas swing, trying to avoid the middle-of-the-day heat from the South American sun. I had the privilege of spending the morning with Danielo, my little charge, who had a hesitant smile that I was trying hard to coax out of him, little by little. He had been born pre-maturely, with only 5 months of development before he entered into the world, one he would have to navigate with out hearing, or speaking.
I was learning some sign language that he knew…and also that when he wanted to make himself understood (for instance when he didn’t want to give up his place behind the wheel of the little plastic car.)… he had a stubbornness that would put a ‘burro’ to shame.
A friend had counselled me as I packed for Peru, ‘Bring balloons, there will always be birthdays to celebrate when you’re there!‘ And as I got to know Danielo, I realized that a balloon was one of the things that made his little smile appear. Perfect! I also learned that it was of utmost importance to have multiple balloons in my bag, or my policing duties on the playground would scale up a notch. Yesterday I may have had to run up a slippery metal slide at lightning speed to separate two little boys (but not in time to stop a bloody nose)…when one communicates only in sign language, and the other arrived the day before from a neglectful family situation and doesn’t know sign language, there’s bound to be some frustration.
But at this moment I was enjoying a moment of calm with Danielo on the swing, showing him a puzzle to coax him out of the heat of the day.
POP!!! The green balloon he was clutching tightly exploded and he looked down in dismay. His lips pursed together stubbornly and he quickly held up the balloon to my mouth with the clear-as-day-message ‘My balloon!! Fix it please!!! Put the air back in!! ‘
Oh Danielo! I can’t! I smiled at his quick thinking solution to the problem and his determination.
If only I could. If only broken balloons were that easily fixed!
But wait! I signed to him. (That’s one sign I quickly learned.) I have another one in my bag…just a few puffs and voila, you can hold a brand new balloon.
If only I could. If only I could fix your broken world Danielo. If only I could put the ‘pieces’ back together and give you a family, a mom , and a dad, that would welcome your birth with joy and provision for all your needs, all your many challenges.
But sometimes things are so broken…they cannot be put back together the way they were. I can’t ‘fix’ the broken balloon. I can’t give Danielo back his Mom and Dad.
‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted”
Jesus came to do what I cannot. To put the pieces back together…to mend what was broken. No, here in this life, everything will not be like it was. It will not be exactly as it should be… but one stroke at a time on the canvas of our lives, as we offer the pieces to Him, He restores and mends what was broken.
‘All these pieces, broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole…’
He came to heal , to add beauty where there was brokenness.
And He calls us to join Him, to follow the strokes of His brush on the canvas of the
lives around us. I see it happening here, at a children’s home in Lima Peru. Smiles are coaxed out, one hug, one cup of ‘jugo de mango’, one brightly coloured balloon at a time. A signed conversation, help with a hard task, a celebration of accomplishments. And with the touch of the Master Artist, all together these strokes will make a beautiful canvas.