Oddly enough, my son’s school celebrates Mother’s Day in October. No problem, I am more than happy to receive a handwritten card and some special loving no matter what time of year! Thus yesterday evening I pulled my high-heeled boots out of hiding and proudly escorted my handsome boy back to his big, city-block-wide school building.
The size of the school is worth mentioning because parents were told to enter on one block, and students on the other. Unfortunately, we parked on the parent side and walked around to the student side only to be sent back to the parent side together again! And while the school itself is a good school, the neighborhood is not the greatest. On our return trek Owen was nervous, because each way we had to pass a very angry, drunken man screaming on the street corner. He was a crash course in Chilean swear words and happened to be positioned just a few feet from the gathering crowd of parents.
While his wails came at us from one direction, we soon got an earful from the other. Owen and I were standing next to a father with a young son. The son stared at Owen and began talking to his dad in a very loud voice. “DADDY! LOOK AT HIS SKIN! THAT BOY HAS DIFFERENT SKIN! HIS SKIN IS DIFFERENT THAN US, DADDY! WHY IS HIS SKIN LIKE THAT? IT IS BLACK, DADDY! IS HE DIRTY? DADDY, HIS SKIN! HIS SKIN!”
Ugh. I often wonder how many times my son has bravely stood silent in the face of such commentary when I am not around. We both knew the boy was immature and not purposely being unkind. I put my arms around my son and kissed his beautiful face, looking at the other boy and trying to smile. The boy’s dad encouraged him to talk to Owen but the little boy refused. I asked Owen if he knew what an ambassador was, then explained that he was an ambassador to so many boys like this one who didn’t realize God made people in many more colors and varieties than they had ever seen.
Finally we were allowed inside and immediately Owen was whisked away back to the student side. After a program of live entertainment by students and (very! very! very!) loud invited singers, we moms were reunited with our children who proudly treated us to a beautiful tableful of yummy goodies. When everything was nearly over, Owen and I walked back to our car with a classmate and his grandma. As we climbed aboard and pulled into the street, another interesting sight appeared before us. Out of the gloom a man materialized on the corner, gesturing wildly and shrieking. He too was apparently drunk, with an unkempt gray beard and pale bare chest. But his most striking feature was a black eye patch which gave him the impression of a misplaced sailor roaming the big city.
It’s a colorful world we live in. Some colors are beautiful, like my son’s glistening skin or the purple hues of an ocean sunset. These I love to gaze upon or spend an evening enjoying their company. But other circumstances color our world dark and gray, such as poverty and drunkenness and homelessness. We see these so often in our city that they sometimes draw only a glance as we become desensitized to human tragedy.
Our challenge is to remain engaged and caring in a culture gone awry. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:12) May we see this colorful world through the eyes of the One whose palette first brushed it into pure life, and Who will one day renew its pristine beauty.