Beauty in the Now; Lessons From My Son

Our youngest son Samuel was adopted from Kazakhstan, just two weeks short of his third birthday.

leaf-2-2

The first year, or two, or three that he was home were filled with both joys and challenges. I mean, how could they not be?

Samual Miras,  “Miras Smagulov Kaponovich” was not one of the orphaned children who ran to meet the strangers, accepted treats, or wanted to run off and play. He was the toddler who caused “trouble” because he preferred to stay with his caregivers, have a book read to him, and be loved on by those he knew.

All good signs for an orphaned child in an institution. 

Then we showed up to be his parents and he didn’t want anything to do with us. We took him away from everything he had known (I appreciated the mandatory 21 days of in-country, in orphanage, bonding time so he at least knew us).

We took him from everyone he had known- to a small child this was his  community, peers – brothers and sisters to a small child. The smells were different, the food was different. Cars, planes, appointments, check ups, pictures, visas….

The routine – the routine that never, ever, ever, ever, ever changed in an orphanage in Kazakhstan. The routine was shot, gone, kaput, over.

The neural pathways in his brain that had formed in that routine simply did not know what to make of the changes. The fear response was huge.

Terrifying. 

He didn’t yet know that the hand that was leading him, compelling him to move forward, to walk on wobbly legs, holding him close as he kicked to get away, forcing experiences and greater horizons, enlarging his world…

Did it all for love. He didn’t know the one causing pain loved him more than life itself. 

For many of these formerly orphaned children they have challenges stacked up against them. Trauma, pain, loss…

This blog is not about that – this blog is about life. There will be challenges yet to be revealed. We all have our own inadequacies, shadows, and egos – illusions to overcome throughout our entire lives. It’s all part of the process of living. 

Sam has overcome his challenges to become a young man full of grace, talented, loving, and with a very old soul. 

I can’t help but compare his life and redemption to the life of all of us. Life is scary. It is wrought with challenges and choices. Every day we face the moment by moment choice of loving the Other or saving the Self. Love or hate. Sacrifice or gain. Me or you.

Yet, we too are held by the hand of  One who leads us. Even when we don’t really know Him, when the love hasn’t grown yet, when we are scared, alone, and facing unknown territory, He is still there pushing us forward…

Into the painful, into the joy, the growth, the health, and the peace.

Life is a symphony; sometimes it’s the soothing tones of the cello as it sadly sings a days end lullaby. Other times we hear the thundering piano concerto stirring us to fight.  The Maestro is orchestrating, but we often fail to recognize what piece He is playing.

Lenten Longins Sam cello

I believe those early years of suffering as a child somehow created a deep spiritual sense for Sam – of life – but more – the ethereal – the metaphysical – beyond words or description.

Sam hears the music.

He sees the unseen. 

Glimpses of God. 

Hidden in the recesses of memory, and formed by the Holy Spirit he holds to an inner knowing.

 I am often awed by how he seems to connect with the deeper things of life that are foreign to people years ahead of him. Foreign to many people for their entire lives. If I am honest, often foreign to me. What I struggle to embrace comes naturally to him.

Age, does not always equate with emotional or spiritual maturity.

Sam is a photographer but he captures more than just scenery in his photos – he captures life. He doesn’t see through the eye of his lens just something that would look good in print, he sees the essence of it – he sees the eternal.

Sam is teaching me to see. Not through the toddler’s eyes that consumed so many years of my life as the mother of a large family, but through the eyes of being.

Eyes that remind me that in every moment is the thread of times past, present, and eternal. A tapestry that is woven from being to being, place to place, season to season, moment to moment. 

samshots-fall-1
I’ll let Sam speak for himself:

“Welcome Autumn, with your vibrant colors of red, orange, yellow and brown. Welcome all the misty afternoons and refreshingly crisp air. Welcome all the hats and sweatshirts and warm fires that set an orange glow on the walls. Welcome those long walks down winding roads that call old memories of past joys; the crunch of leaves beneath your feet as you walk. Welcome leaf piles and rakes and crisp apples that are picked with care. Welcome rosy cheeks and cold noses and warm hands in red mittens. Welcome Autumn with all you hold, pointing us to something greater.”

You can see more of  SamShots photos on his Facebook page.

Just Breathe in the Moment – Breathe in Shalom

It’s there in the moment.

sunshine

Sandwiched between the sadness and the joy. Between the love and the difficult relationships. Between the sun and the clouds. Between till death do us part, and lets talk about this another time. Between confidence and fear. Between self-preservation and laying down our lives. 

Between risking it all, and guarding our hearts.

Between finding God and losing Him.

Shalom

I am starting to understand Shalom in this time between times as I listen to the rhetoric of a political figure who incites fear and anger. I wonder what has happened to our country – to respecting those in authority as given by God even when we don’t agree. To respect each other and our different opinions – the fabric of freedom.

It is a higher calling to love others rather than to hate –  to have faith instead of fear.

All politics aside – I serve the Son of  a Middle Eastern immigrant who also happens to be the Son of God, born of the Holy Ghost, and born to die that others may live.

A Middle Eastern immigrant who had to flee persecution and death on several occasions beginning as a wee child.

We are compelled to give the person who asks us for our shirt – our coat as well.

We are encouraged if asked to walk one mile to willingly go two instead.

We are called to lay down our life for others with a promise that if we hold tightly to our own lives we will lose them, but if we give up our life we will gain – everything.

We will gain Christ. 

We are called to love, love, and then love some more. We are not called to Patriotism but to Kingdom life.

We are not called to an American flag but a Banner of Love.

We are called to an expansion of the Kingdom, not an expansion of our government.

We are called to this moment in time.

We are called to the person next to us on the bus who is a different color, a different race, a different ethnicity, a different religion – but of one blood. We as Christ followers have the Spirit whispering to us, “You were called for such a time as this.” The pain, the suffering, the wars, the genocides, the immigrants, the oppressed – we were called for them.

The hurting, the weak, the despised. 

We can’t love without Shalom. True Agape love can’t spring forth from the polluted waters of fear, self-preservation or anger. 

Shalom is so much more than peace. Shalom is complete wholeness, peace, tranquility – it is our emotions at harmony with everything that is –  breathing to the rhythm of God’s love. It is a state of being even when everything around you is in a state of doing.

It’s outwardly weeping the pain of one of our children while we breath in it is well with my soul. 

It is crossing thoughts of movie theater terrorism carried away by the laughter of happy grandchildren eating popcorn without a care.

It’s overcoming the fear of flying and seeing the in the Middle Eastern Muslim sitting across from you the face of Jesus instead of the face of the enemy.

Our Triune God is great. Our country is just a group of people fighting to do the best we can with fallen perspectives and selfishness and sin striving against the guiding compass of Love with a small measure of finite greatness. 

We as disciples are to live in the moment of Shalom. It is well with our souls when we put others first.

We must recognize that we are afraid, and fear produces cognitive dissonance…

…and cognitive dissonance causes spiritual dissonance…

…and spiritual dissonance is not where Shalom abides.

Shalom resides only in the God who was willing to lay down His rights – His very life that we as immigrant children could be adopted as sons and daughters into a Kingdom without end, without boundaries, without wars, pain, or suffering. A Kingdom party of Imago Dei.

We can’t invite enemies to the party – we won’t get close enough to them to do that. We must invite friends, acquaintances and neighbors.

We are called to inhale a time as this – and bring others into that breath. 

(All photography courtesy of my son Samuel – SamShots )