it's on the wrong side of town,
and the wrong side of the tracks
that i find my heart completely ruined and busted open.
it's at that fenced in playground
near that old school converted into hope
that i find my 3 little ones playing with abandon.
he leans out the window from that top story floor,
tells me he loves me,
keeps me in his sight.
he knows what i didn't admit when i walked back outside,
what i was too ashamed to verbalize...
that i was scared.
they stayed up on the third floor to hand out gifts,
to fill hands that don't have much with a bit of christmas this year.
the halls were crowded
and my three wanted to run,
so i went outside and felt like i had really been no help at all.
i sit with my back against a chain-link fence,
keenly aware of my 3 and of the dangers that lurked all around...
when i noticed him
and his eyes that were trained on me.
no more than 11, he looked at me boldly,
didn't look away when i held his gaze.
unsure what to do, i smiled...
and he stepped a foot or so closer
and smiled in return.
hey lady, wanna see what i can do?
his tender voice trying to sound all tough and strong,
as he proceeded to show me his acrobatic abilities.
and my voice that had been praising my own small three couldn't resist cheering for him too.
because who can resist pain that stares straight into you?
who boldly challenges you to not look away?
they had sat on the other side of the fence,
those two with that colour showing beneath their jackets -
they had slipped in a few moments after i got outside,
moved to where they could go unnoticed.
and i heard it before i saw it - that big old 4 by 4 coming down the alley,
watched it pull up onto the grass,
drive closer to the where all the children were playing.
and i stood up and moved closer to my own
as one very large man, dressed in a shirt of the opposite hue, stepped out of the truck and faced the two.
i began to mentally count the ones who were near,
the ones who had listened in the dark to my heart, to my breath, to my voice for those nine months deep inside me...
when my mind automatically counted a 4th presence come close.
and the boy from the wrong side of town,
the wrong side of the tracks,
stands close to the woman who is obviously out of her element
and obviously frozen in fear.
and the mama inside of me wants to pull him in close,
to shelter him from whatever has placed that pain in his gaze.
to keep him safe from whatever happens on the street he calls home...
and he drifts back to play while the two against the fence slowly get up and walk away,
as that big old truck eases into reverse and drives back down that alley.
i watch him pull livie into a game of tag,
race lyla down the slides,
give elias a high-five as they pass on the stairs,
as his shoulders straighten when i thank him for playing with my 3...
and i wonder where he will end up,
this boy with the sad eyes and the hopeful smile.
the one who just wants to be noticed
and it doesn't really matter what side of the tracks we come from,
none of us are immune to pain,
to horrors that hide behind closed doors.
He took on flesh and dwelt among us...
unafraid to look deep into our pain,
to step into our broken
and touch what was...what is... festering with death.
and the radio croons out songs of coming home,
of holidays full of cheer and warmth...
of families and reindeer and farmer grey...
and christmas is shellacked in a veneer of impossible expectations.
how easy to forget, in the lights and the ribbons and the presents stacked high,
He was born into a mess.
and as i looked into the face of a boy whose eyes wouldn't look away,
i thought of Jesus
and His bold calling on my life,
on all of our lives who belong to Him.
and this season that i am finding so hard to navigate through
pulls back the curtain i had hid behind for so long.
lifts past the pretty to the broken
and begs me to find Him there...
can i love the unlovely?
can i hold close the broken?
can i let my life be used for Him?
and can i wrap it all up with the thread woven with His very own sacrifice?
it means a change in posture,
a change in view point,
a change in vocabulary.
when all one hears this time of year is,
give me, give me, give me...
let the one word out of my own mouth be small
let me be