Last week my family and I joined 15 others for a 5 day trip into a village called Vista del Valle, east of Tijuana, Mexico to serve the people there. Together we mustered up all of our God-given gifts (that we weren’t totally sure we had) and shared ourselves with this community. We painted and fixed things. We brought crafts and games and fun to kids. We visited homes to deliver food and pray.
The church we went to support, Gracia del Calvario, is located across the street from this corner lot.
We parked along this curb the first day and as we were getting out of the car, my 4 1/2 year old son Sawyer said, “Mom look!” I turned to look and immediately expected him to point to all the trash. Instead, he said “Look mom, I see a white butterfly!” And flying way over toward the back was a bright white moth that looked like a butterfly.
It was the tiniest glimpse of beauty. I stood there in amazement, wishing I had his eyes.
Both Sawyer and our 2 1/2 yr old daughter Harper saw nothing but bright spots in Mexico. Fun kids to meet, dirt and rocks to play with, quesadillas and orange Fanta. Harper especially loved the graffiti. Every time we passed some she would say, “I see my name! I see Sawyer’s name!” She also loved the stray dogs- thankfully she was committed to our rule that she could look at the animals but not touch. About every 10 minutes she would holler, “I see nother pup!”
I imagine some would question the wisdom in bringing such young kids on a trip like this one (I had a few concerns myself) but I assure you, it was beautiful. Not only are they learning to serve others, to expand their perspective and to see the world in a fuller, more compassionate way- they are teaching me the art of seeing the golden threads.
As adults, we have the context to see things as a whole and we know these issues are complex. We see the grit and the depths of brokenness. Maturity does that. I don’t want to be a child who only sees incomplete bits, but watching my kids on this trip reminded me to train my eyes and heart to see past the surface and find the beauty.
My husband Brian commented on the second day that his eyes were starting to see different things. We started looking beyond the trash and saw resourcefulness-I have never seen people use trash more creatively. We started looking through the poverty and saw sacrifice of parents for their families.
This week when I did laundry and was tempted to complain about my old machine that shakes and has a broken knob, I prayed for those moms trying to take care of their families with no running water. When I started to worry about feeding my kids the “right” foods, I prayed for the moms who struggle to feed their kids at all. When I found myself grumbling about our choice to be a one income family living on a pastor’s salary, I prayed for the youth pastor’s family we worked with in Mexico.
I want those perspectives to stay woven into me, but I need to change my scenery often enough to keep them alive. I will train my eyes to see beyond the hard, the ugly and the hopeless. In Mexico and in my own life. When fear or tragedy or loss flood my life, I want to feel our connectedness, poverty or not, and remember that to be human is to know darkness. To be human is also to know hope.
Wherever you are today, search for the bright spots. In your office, your home, your situation, your marriage, your neck of the woods. Look for that white butterfly. And if you really can’t find one, be one.