Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude

This afternoon at about 2:30 something happened that made me think to myself, "Today has been a really good day, and now it's even better."

It started this way: We have freezing temperatures in Portland right now with a little snow and a lot of ice on the roads yesterday. When I got in to work, I quickly noticed that a few of our elderly clients were nowhere close to having warm enough coats for this kind of weather. When I asked one of the men about it, he smiled, did a little jig and said that he keeps moving to make sure he stays warm.

You know, you have to love this optimistic attitude, but a warm coat and gloves sure would be nice. So I put a plea out there to friends and acquaintances in the local adoption community to help me keep our African elders warm in this weather. I went through my own closets and found a couple of coats and some scarves, gloves, hats.

When I got to work today, I set up the winter gear in a side room next to the classroom. Then in walked a fellow adoptive parent (who is also a volunteer with our program) with his two kids and bags of clothes. I wanted to cry. We added his family's things to the piles, and I was able to bring the clients in two-by-two to find some things to keep them warm.

One lady was excited to find a red hat to go with the bright red coat she put on. My favorite moment happened when our jig-dancing elder found a pair of thick leather gloves that fit him perfectly. He told me, again with a huge smile, that he had been planning on buying gloves that very afternoon, and gloves just like the kind he just found. He added a bright red scarf to his outfit, asked how he looked, and I said with a lump in my throat, "Fantastic."

I was so distressed yesterday to see these precious people without proper clothes. I am always worried that in this weather, they will get sick, and I just don't know what I would do if anything bad happened to any of them. Seeing these folks so dear to me walk out this afternoon with gloves on their hands, hats on their heads, scarves on their necks, and warm coats on their backs filled me with such joy, such gratitude that I have the privilege of knowing these people.

I got home feeling full. I brought Thanksgiving groceries inside, sat down at the computer, and saw three new emails from a friend from L.A. who met our little girl while she was in Addis bringing home her little one. She had sent me about a dozen new photos, all of them beautiful, the most beautiful ones I've seen. My heart was overflowing at this point. It was 2:30 and my good day suddenly got even gooder.

In these photos, we got to see that our girl has dimples when she smiles really big. She's standing amid her friends at the care center, wearing a white t-shirt with a short, bright pink dress over it. She is wearing bright green pants. She looks like a flower, her legs the stem, her top the tulip. She is beaming. In one photo, all the kids are holding their hands straight up over their heads, and she is the only one looking at the camera. This is my favorite photo. She reminds me of Rich Mullins in the photo from the cover of his biography, An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (one of my favorite books of all time about one of my favorite human beings of all time). Her stance is one of joy, of optimism. She is a bright flower growing towards heaven.

In another, she is looking down, and the sweep of her neck and shape of her lovely head is so statuesque, so queenly, so simply lovely. She seems so petite, and her face is all eyes, beaming smiles, and dimples.

Just last night, I was telling Ted how this time round, this child doesn't seem as real to me as Abe did after we found out about him. That seemed to end with these new photographs. I can't stop staring at them, the way I used to sit and stare at Abe's pictures before we met him in person. I want to know who this little girl is. I want to hold her hand, to comb her hair, to see her smile at me, to sneak in her room at night and watch her sleep, to hold her close. I feel that through these photographs, I know her a little better. I just can't believe how beautiful she is.

I am gushing. I should stop. I think it's safe to say I'm falling a little in love with a picture again.

The first child whose photo stole my heart, overseeing the production of our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

8 comments:

Staci said...

Beautiful, Lori. I love what you all did for your dear friends. And I can't wait to see photos of your girl one day soon:)

Christine said...

Beautiful, beautiful writing. I love that feeling of noticing my joy or gratitude. I would love to meet your elders.

Claudia said...

ah, happy feelings being generated by the bucketload by that post on this side of the Atlantic, Lori! CAnnot WAIT to see some pics of your little tulip.

kn said...

What joy to see people you love well taken care of. A perfect Thanksgiving.

I'm so thrilled for you and your little girl! I cannot wait to see all of you together.

Now, I'm off to make my pie! Perhaps I should have started last night.

lindy said...

Truly a beautiful post. Now my day is even better, too.

Sharon said...

So beautiful.

Julie said...

Love to you beautiful Lori.

Cindy said...

Sweet post. : )