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