Basketballs ricocheted off concrete and clanged against blue chain link.
I plucked green grass and bent it methodically in fours, snapping after each bend.
"Are you okay?" I had asked her. "Your eyes look sad."
This was the day of the phone not working, I remember. Accompanying one of my American students back to the Paris airport for an earlier departure to the United States, I had then traveled back across France alone by train, metro, and bus to join French and Belgian friends in a park in northern France.
My borrowed Belgian phone refused to connect. An automated French message told me that part of my phone's number needed to be registered. Plus there was the complication of using a Belgian phone to call a French number, and therefore the phone number would alter slightly.
"Okay, drop the 32, add a zero..." I mused aloud, "or if calling France, drop the 33, and add a zero?"
Flitting back and forth across the French-Belgian border and calling friends with both numbers, I tapped again and again into my borrowed phone, with no results.
Gathering my courage and my French, I approached friendly-looking French and Belgian strangers again and again that day. On sidewalks in Lille beside soaring tall white train stations, and on crowded city buses in Belgium, I was entranced time and again by the graciousness of strangers. Beautiful moments of connecting over phone issues led to kind conversations, warm smiles, and the chance for me to thank them and to shower God's blessing on them.
Reunited with my friends by the basketball court later, I thanked God for the fun adventures and the people I had been gifted to meet that day, and settled down onto the blue blanket. Conversation ebbed and flowed around us and our love for each other grew.
And that's what it was, I noticed... a love for each person I had seen or met. A surreal beauty of striding through any city, any country, any street, and seeing the thousands of people around me, knowing that God knows them each by name, that he is enamored with them, that he delights in them and loves them fiercely. And I? I got a chance to see them, to walk by them, to pray for them and love them joyfully, yet with only a fraction of what his love for them is.
Weeks later, back in the United States, this feeling remains. Choosing to stop and truly see people, to try to love them, pray for them, and ask God for rich blessings on them is a joy and a privilege.
I smile at strangers in my grocery store, start up conversations with the cashier, and savor long the talks with friends at Minnesota parks too.
Drumbeats led the dancing and chanted blessings. Lilting Arabic tongue trills amplified the excitement, and women rushed in to swirl veils around their heads, over the griot's microphoned head, and back into the dancing circle again. Taking turns, pairs or trios of women rushed into the circle, danced and stamped out their blessings, whirling and twirling in sparkly, iridescent beauty. My mom and I stood and clapped along, our faces creased in warm joy at the honor of being invited to share this celebration, and full of our Creator's love for these new global sisters.
Can you see it too? The beauty and joyful honor in being able to meet and smile and to be Love to the people around you? We have the joyful gift of being able to see and to savor the gorgeous beauty of God's people all around us. Each moment, each conversation, is a gift.
Happy summer, friend. I have missed being here with you. How is your summer? What have been highs and lows for you? Feel free to comment below and I would be honored to cheer with you over the good and to cry and pray with you over the hard parts. (Those in email can click here to join the conversation.)
I'm excited to start up my 2018-2019 speaking and teaching season again. Many of us have been talking already as we set up opportunities for me to come teach at your church, retreat, homeschool co-op, MOMS group and more. Feel free to email my Speaking Board and I to check availability for your group's next event and to save your date on my calendar.
If you are interested in joining me for the Cover to Cover Bible survey class where we read through the whole Bible in a year and get college-level Bible learning, there are still some spots left. Simply register through Village Schools of the Bible here.
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