Sunday, May 12, 2013

Do you believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic? Ahh the classic song. That timeless tune by the Lovin' Spoonful. The bee-boppity, happy-go-lucky feeling song that almost every one knows or has at least heard sometime in their lives. 

Yes, this is the song that our brains jump to & begin to dance along to most likely upon reading the title of this blog & the opening question. But I'm not talking about this song--as beautiful as it may be. And I'm not trying to poetically reference this song in any way. I am literally asking this question.

Do you, my friends, believe in magic? Do I believe in magic? I realized today that I do.

Today began, as most days do, with the sunlight blinding my restless eyes and the immediate pain in my back that accumulates through a lifestyle of sofa-sleep. I have a bed. I just rarely chose to sleep in it. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because my bed is in the basement and the basement is very isolated. Isolation is something I rarely enjoy. 

But today began, unlike mosts, with my dear friend, Sarai, sleeping on the smaller sofa next to me. My family and I were lucky enough to have sweet Sara spend her first night in the United States in almost six years with us. Her coming to stay with us was an honor for us but an extreme sacrifice for her and her family--especially her mother, who was resultantly forced to spend Mother's Day without her 3 youngest children.

About 3 years ago, Sara's father was murdered in the streets of Guatemala because of the good he was doing for the people in his village. After having lived in the United States with his beautiful wife, Marisol, and achieving the 'American Dream' with his three American children, he felt God calling him back to his hometown of Guatemala. He became a pastor of a church and began instilling hope in the surrounding areas because of the Gospel of Christ--hope was something that the drug lords were very threatened by. As they began to threaten Jose (Sara's father), because of the hope that threatened them, Jose refused to back away from his selfless pursuit of sharing the Word of God. 

The drugs lord's threats, however, proved to be more than simply words and left his children fatherless and his wife a widow. Marisol, despite the tragedy, bravely continues Jose's work. About 4 months ago, due to the danger that was increasing in their village, Marisol sent her two youngest, american born, sons to the United States (Samuel and Fernando). What a joy and a blessing it was to be reunited with them. And finally, last night, Sara was sent to the United States to be joined with her brothers.

Sara is 8 years old and traveled on a connecting flight from Guatemala, to Atlanta, to Charlotte all by herself. Obviously, Sara possesses that same bravery that her mother does. 

This morning, as I awoke to Sara on the sofa across from me, I couldn't help but see her story shining from her face as the sun was shining onto mine. I felt a twinge in my heart, a tightening in my chest. What a precious child. My sympathetic moment was interrupted by someone calling my name.

It was my mother. My beautiful mother. Dressed in nicely ironed white pants and a radiant yellow shirt. Her age seemingly unchanged since her youth. Strangers constantly mistake her for my sister. But she is not my sister, she is my mother and this day belonged to her. In light of Sara being in the room with us and her mother not, I felt beyond honored and blessed to have my mother here with me--even though she was a little upset that I hadn't gotten up earlier and I was being rushed to get ready. I would take her  rushing me over not having her any day. So I got up and got dressed--eagerly and gratefully.

My father had already left for church, seeing as he is the pastor and pastors not only two churches but also has a segment on the radio in the mornings had to get to that side of town much earlier than us. My mother, brothers, Sara, and I all boarded into our car and headed for church. Along the way we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast--which ended up making us a few minutes late for English church. But that was ok because we snuck in unnoticeably onto the back row and quickly became situated.

The service was lovely and honored the mothers who so deserved to be honored. The songs were sung in beautiful harmony and authentic passion. The people were moved to be godly parents and appreciative children. And as I looked to the seats next to me I saw one of my friends. A big strong friend I had been acquainted with for some time but never really knew. He is a very handsome college-aged boy with a beautiful smile that he was always wearing. But to my surprise, as I looked to the seats next to me, he was not smiling but rather in tears. The lights of the big church room trickled down the tears that trickled down his cheeks. Such pain I saw and felt as he rested his beautiful face in his strong hands. I was so surprised that it caused brief amnesia towards his background. I quickly remembered what had happened that could be the cause of these tears. He had lost his mother to cancer a few years ago. He and his younger brother were left motherless in this cruel world and yet he still faithfully attends church--my church. Even on Mother's Day. A day which he seemed to be at a loss.

I felt bad for staring at him and somewhat guilty for having my mother next to me holding my hand. So, feeling awkward and spoiled, I returned my attention to the stage. But though he was out of sight, he was surely not out of mind. 

The service ended with the singing of "Alleluia" and a final applause for all of the mothers present. After dismissal, and after shaking the hands of what seemed to be hundreds of people, we all boarded into our car again and headed to the next church-the Spanish church. 

Truthfully, I feel more at home at the Spanish church. Even though I am full-blooded American and 'gringa', my experience with traveling and even living in Spanish-speaking countries instilled a love for the hispanic culture in my soul. My blood is mingled with Hispanic passion. My breath is fueled by the Spanish language. My feet are taken over by the Latin dances. I am white by classification and birth, but Hispanic by heart and soul. 

As the crowd filled into the building and the music began to build, my mother, Sara, and I sat joyfully on the front row, eagerly awaiting the reunion of Sara with her brothers. We sat and enjoyed the service but each one of us couldn't help but scan the room for Samuel and Fernando--especially me. I was looking over my shoulder constantly for the glimpse of these precious boys. My attempts to find them proved futile. And I then resorted to refocusing on the sermon and my father.

Again, the message was inspirational and I am sure tears were shed in this auditorium as well. But whether tears had been spread already or not, they were about to be. My father approached the stage and began explaining to the congregation the story of Jose, which they were already pretty familiar with. He then asked for Fernando and Samuel to come to the stage. As he spoke their names, I didn't look for them this time, instead I looked towards Sara. Her dark brown eyes, which had been soft smiles and subtle happiness the whole time I had been with her, reshaped themselves. They seemed to deepen and even darken. Gentle tears began to gather in them. She, being the humble child she was, tried to wipe these tears from her eyes and hide the strong emotion that she was experiencing. She hadn't even seen her brothers yet.

I then noticed Fernando and Samuel walking down the isle next to us. Their eyes almost identical to those of Sara. Their eyes quickly caught the eyes of their sister whom they hadn't seen in months. The subtle tears turned into heavy droplets that clung to their cheeks as if they were holding on for dear life. But they couldn't hold on, because as the tears cascaded down their faces the older tears were forced to fall to their deaths on the floor below. Desperation and sheer uncorrupted happiness. That is my attempt at describing the emotion that these children were feeling. And as I tried my hardest to define these children's faces that were being eternally engrained into my memories, I felt a cold and heavy tear hit my lap. This tear belonged to me. 

The brothers were directed to the stage and Sara still sat next to me, but I knew that she was no longer there, her hand was no long preoccupied with holding mine, and her heart was no longer fulfilled with being next to me. She longed to be with her brothers, so much so that she could hardly sit still. I couldn't stand the torture, and my mother and I, without instruction or permission, guided Sara to the stage.

She ran to the stage and, even in her heels, she gracefully and rapidly climbed the stairs. Finally, she was able to embrace her brothers. The tears were flowing freely now and without restraint. They had realized that they could no longer cling to the cheeks of these reunited siblings. And so, they fell. The light reflecting off these droplets of joy and hope and arguably even.... magic. 

After the service, we released Sara to her family here and decided it was time to be reunited with ours. So we headed to my grandparents house. As I walked into the house, the house that harbored many of my childhood memories, I saw my grandmother, with her hair whiter than the purest snow, shimmering in the light of the sun that entered the home through the back windows. Again, my heart twinged. Only two days ago my sweet grandmother had been rushed to the emergency room for heart attack symptoms. She had been drugged up and poked and prodded and tested and treated for hours and hours . Prayers and tears and more and more prayers were shared between family and friends and the numerous people my grandparents have impacted over the years. Once again, God had not only answered our prayers but showed His mercy and love to us through allowing my grandmother to live and be present on this Mother's Day. Present and healthy.

You already know that I do believe in magic. But why do I believe in magic? How can I believe in magic in a world where magic has been not only supposedly disproven but frowned upon? We have scientifically broken apart the world in all of its beauty and glory and belittled it to nothing more than scientific equations and proven & examined facts. We have become desensitized to magic and disillusioned to the reality of it. We think that magic is all fairytales, wizards, dragons, and wands. We think magic is for children or the mentally insane. We believe that magic is the opposite of science and therefore, the opposite of a civilized and evolving person. Magic and religion and hope and faith--foolish and stupid concepts that we cling to to find meaning in a meaningless world. 

I refuse to believe that this is the case. That magic is foolish or unreal. I refuse to believe this because I have seen magic. I have seen magic today. There is magic in the sunlight that blinds me every morning--that warms my face and wakes my sleeping body. The sunlight that illuminates tears and radiates off of my grandmother's hair. There is magic in a twinging heart. That emotion that hurts but comforts all at the same time. There is magic in tears. The tears of a son that infinitely misses his mother. A son that is now grown and handsome and independent. The tears of a little girl being reunited with her brothers. Desperate and hopeful and unconditionally joyful tears. The tears of the lucky witness of these magical moments. Tears of empathy and inspiration. 

There is magic in faith. Faith in the God that answers prayers. Faith in the God that sustains the life of my family and is the ultimate Creator of all that is, has been, and will be. 

There is magic in motherhood. My mother has shown me that. The mother that magically brought four children into this world and raised them in absolute love and support, proved to me that magic is real.

I don't believe in magic because I am searching for some sort of meaning. I believe in magic because I have found meaning. Because I have witnessed it and felt it and been a byproduct of it. I believe in magic, not because Lovin' Spoonful inspired me to, but because my mother inspired me to, my dear friend who lost his mother but remains faithful inspired me to, my sweet and brave Sara inspired me to, my healthy grandmother inspired me to, and above all, my real and all-poweful God inspired me to.

Tonight I hope to wish you all a happy Mother's Day. And along with that wish, I hope to encourage you to believe in magic, too, because, after all...

"Those who do not believe in magic will never find it"
~Roald Dahl

Find magic, my friends.