A beautiful smile beamed at me from beneath a wide brimmed woven hat. I gestured at the flowers she had been watering and gave her a thumbs up. She received the compliment and responded with an even broader smile. I held up my camera; she nodded, and I clicked. As unlikely as it seems, a friendship began with this random encounter along the lakeside walkway in Yangon.
I made a copy of the photo and carried it in my bag for weeks, hoping to see the gardner so that I could share it. One day our paths crossed again and I gave her the rolled up picture which I had printed on plain white paper. It brought her so much delight that we had our picture taken together, and I printed and shared that one too. Another afternoon, after she was finished with work, she took my hand and led me to her home for tea. She wanted me to see so how the gifts I had given were displayed on her wall.
We communicate with gestures, sounds that the other almost never understands, and laughter. Amazingly, in this way we’ve come to know about a bit about each others’ lives. Sometimes we are able to share about deeper things–all without words.
While our life experiences couldn’t be more different, they are also strikingly similar. Di Di Aye is Buddhist and I am Christian. Because of language differences, we can’t talk about our spiritual lives, but when times have been hard, we have used our facial expressions and tone of voice to express our concern. Once when Di Di Aye feared homelessness, Tim and I asked if we could pray together. She nodded an appreciative “Yes.” We held hands and through tears we joined our hearts, asking God for help.
I can’t say I fully understand our connection, but it is deep and real. We both value it. Yesterday I was walking by the lake and scanning the island where Di Di Aye lives, hoping for a reunion with my friend. To my delight, in the distance I saw two hands go up and wave. Next, I watched as Di Di Aye ran across her “bridge” and came to meet me, inviting me to return to her house with her.
We hadn’t seen each other for seven months since I was last in Myanmar. There was a new grand-baby to introduce to me. When Di Di Aye pointed at the large boil on her foot, I took a good look at it and learned about the two shots she had received as treatment. But what Di Di Aye most wanted me to see was the little flower garden she had planted. I wanted to cry when I realized that the seeds that I had left in June were now blossoming in her yard!
Life is full of mystery. What unnamable bond unites my heart to Di Di Aye’s and hers to mine?
Life is full of gifts–given and received. A smile. A photograph. A cup of tea. A bag of seeds.
Life can be full of beauty and joy, but we have to be willing to engage–to say “Yes” to the opportunities that present themselves, to live the unexpected blessings that are offered to us, to value connection.
Question for reflection:
What do you need to do to make space in your busy day to notice the gifts that God is offering?
Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of a gift never given. (Proverbs 25:14)