07 November 2009

If You're Happy and You Know It . . .

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

A warm autumn sun overpowers the usual balmy breeze.
An excited smile. A quick wave. Then she turns and runs indoors.
They're here! They're here, I'm sure she says in Karen. I don't speak Karen.
But I know the language of excitement from waiting and anticipation, and it screams
They're here when my silver car parks in front of her apartment.

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

The others arrive in the First United Methodist Church bus.
Doors open, and they carry treasure boxes--plastic containers probably purchased at Wal-Mart. Thirty boxes of Crayola markers, a few pails of Crayola super chalk, bountiful supplies of beads of all colors and rolls of blue twine. A football. A soccer ball. Four hula hoops. A tall, slender pink jar filled with bubble juice and three lovely bubble blowing wands. These are the gifts they bring. Parumpapumpum.

If you're happy and you know it . . .

A boy with large almond eyes stands with his two sisters at the end of the sidewalk.
His eyebrows arch up as his face explodes with a smile. This is his question.
He does not speak Karen, either. And though his native Bengali tongue speaks enough English to ask me the question aloud, my heart is more than happy to join in this silent conversation with my little friend from Bangladesh.
I reply, beckoning to him with my hand, nodding my head and returning a smile explosion his way.

then your face will surely show it.

He walks up to me carrying a long yellow freshly dipped bubble wand. The bubble juice trickles down the wand and slides unto his tiny latte colored fingers. Blow these bubbles for me, he politely asks silently. I oblige. He watches as I slowly blow a bubble. He follows it as it bids farewell to the circle on the wand and takes flight. His smile breaks abruptly as the bubble he watches suddenly disappears to nothingness and air and memory. I blow another bubble quickly, before he has a chance to mourn the other one for too long. He falls deeply in love with this one, too. He doesn't say this. But I know from the way his hand reaches up to it as it soars into the sky. And from the return of that darling smile.

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

We circle up. It's time for us to leave. We stand there together--different churches, different religions, teenagers and adults and children, multiple languages, citizens of the U.S. and Bangladesh and Burma and Thailand and Iraq and maybe other children whose names I did not catch and whose home countries I did not ask. Communicating sometimes with words, mostly with smiles. All refugees really. None of us belong here ultimately. We circle up to sing our prayer each time we visit these children at Turtle Creek apartments: three verses of a childhood tune that gets us all clapping our hands, stomping our feet and saying hooray! And though I don't hear Jesus audibly speak to us in that moment, I feel his smile on all of us. I take a deep breath and inhale this Saturday morning memory.

The kingdom of God is near. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.


"Everybody smiles in the same language. And for that, I am so thankful." Jena Lee, Executive Director of Blood:Water Mission

**Image by KatJo


Anonymous said...

I love it. You are such a good writer. Thanks for sharing this moment of aliveness with us.

Alison said...