How the American Dream becomes Christmas in July
The boy made a wreath out of wood.
And all one December, as the snow fell and the carols played, we sat around a farm table and remembered how a mother swayed heavy with child and we waited for Christ.
The boy made more wreaths out of wood.
He sent them around the whole world.
And more families, they lit candles around the wreath and the figurine of the mother, she travailed on the donkey on the way and she awaited her deliverance and so did all the world.
Laboring for more can birth more pain & if we only give if it’s painless, is this how Christians miscarry Christ?
The boy, he took the funds from his cutting and sanding and months of advent wreaths and he gave it away.
Then come the heat of July, when the wheat in the fields bowed ready and the monarch butterflies lit, it was the boy who started on his way.
“You will need this.”
His grandmother handed him a bag full of love she had stitched.
He carried her gift onto the plane.
And the boy and his mother flew to a country where the ground had shook hard and hope had right cracked and the very earth had seemed to split open to try and swallow up all the future.
A driver drove them down streets teeming with people and garbage and dogged courage and the boy said little.
Children scavenged through rotting street refuse for food.
His mother’s heart contracted hard, labor pains for the hurting and she tried to remember to breathe. They drove out of the city moaning for relief, drove for hours, then turned off the highway into the yard of an inn named The Alpha Hotel.
The boy turned and grinned, “So this is only the beginning?” And the mother had nodded even after they had already come so far. Every day is day One and new beginnings can happen anywhere down the road.
There was room at the Alpha and they took it.
They took two beds and slept under groaning fans in heat that smothered like Hades in a heat wave. The boy’s mother lifted the toilet lid to pull on a chain to flush the toilet. A rat ran in front of the door.
In the morning, they were served pumpkin soup for breakfast because, the driver said, this was what they had eaten long ago to celebrate their freedom from slavery.
The boy slurped the soup down.
We still enslave in a thousand ways and we bring freedom to the oppressed when we’re not enslaved to things at all — but only to Christ alone.
The driver headed into the sun.
And the road choked and coughed and the boy held on and the mother bounced and banged.
Then the road got harder.
They wound higher, past the huts and the cows and the children waiting, waiting for any deliverance at all.
They drove through the waters, past the woman scrubbing clothes in the river.
Drove through the swarming market and the thatched stalls on heaps of stones.
Drove through the donkeys all tied up, waiting for their load to go home.
An old woman held on to her cane and held onto her donkey and her silhouette, it bent heavy with this hoping for hope.
And then the road got narrower.
And the way got steeper.
And the driver wondered if he was lost.
And this is the way the way often is.
But the boy said this narrow, hard road, he knew it was the right way.
When he saw a woman standing out in the heat waiting, her hand on her nine month swollen side. When he saw the sign on the building that said “Welcome,” when children clapped and cheered, when mothers with babes in arms lined the porch, then he nodded as if he’d knew he’d about arrived.
The mother knew they were there when they laid a baby in her arms and it was like the mountains all rang.
All the boy’s advent wreaths, all those donkeys supporting the mother heavy with child, it had supported these 50 women, these 50 babies, for a whole 12 months, December to July to December.
Jean and Fenelon, they told the boy of the twins born in the ditch on the 6 hour walk to the hospital – and how one babe was lost but because of the Compassion Child Survival Program the boy and his wreaths had given to the village and the very real grace of God, the second twin lived.
And Vilnez, a mother of five, she said it soft and the boy had to lean to hear, how the project had given her medicine when sick and helped fill the bowls of her children and brought a nurse to the village around the clock and the program was a grace of God. Her hair was so fine and her little one’s eyes so big.
It was after the pastor stood on the side of the mountain and read from Proverbs 31 about the excellencies of a godly woman and how children are life and after the program’s sewing teacher showed the boy the women’s stitches and new skills.
When they told the boy and his mother that Compassion’s Child Survival Program had shared the gospel of Christ with each of the mothers and 8 more had souls had named Jesus as Lord and 3 unwed mothers had married and 2 more had been baptized and they would like to give the boy a gift of thanks— that is when the mother looked over at her boy.
The place rang loud with the singing of mothers and the clapping of children. And the American dream about climbing higher can turn upside down for the dreams of God. The mother felt it in her heart, felt all this for her son smiling so broad.
American dreams are about having much and God dreams are about giving much. Anything we might gain will never makes us as happy as what we might give away. The mother could hear it all ringing in her ears, shaking her heart wide awake.
American dreams are about this need to become a someone. God dreams are about becoming bread for anyone in need because they love SomeOne.
The old Haitian pastor teared as he shook the boy’s hand and the mother couldn’t stop all her happiness streaming down, down, the happiness always coming in the descending down.
American dreams are about climbing out of all burdens. And God dreams are about carry a cross and sharing one another’s burdens.
How do Christians really bear another’s burden, if we refuse to bear any burden at all?
Am I a Pharisee tossing a painless coin from my excess or a bowed lady giving a tender offering, a bit like the painful, joy-filled last mite? How many times has my “I can’t give” really mean, “I can’t give without bearing a burden myself?”
How can we take a load off someone else’s back without taking a bit of a load on ourselves and what else can it mean to pick up His cross and follow Him?
The mothers sang and danced and the joy rang light off all the hills to all the heavens.
The boy, he laughed — the wreaths from wood had grown hope in the mountains of Haiti.
The giving of December’s Advent wreaths had made it Christmas in July!
And the son turned to his mother. “Today may be the best day of my life.”
And the mother looked into the eyes of the boy that was once her babe and now a man after Him and she murmured, “Mine too, son, mine too.”
And at the end, the boy handed to the mothers what his grandmother had made — all these baby blankets, bits of this legacy of her love handed down from one generation to the next, now left in the mountains of Haiti to go wrap around the next generation and out and on.
And the director of the center, he gave to the boy a painting of the Child Survival Program, of the mothers with their babies, love that were now on its way too.
The boy from the farm and the mothers from the mountains, they shared gifts.
And the burden was shared and the burden was relieved and the burden of our crosses can deliver us into full Joy.
Down the mountain, the boy and his mother passed more donkeys swaying lower as they went higher —
bearing the weightless burden of a grace that gives.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2
Thank you, all, for caring for the mothers of Haiti in 2011-2012 with Caleb’s wooden wreaths – for being part of the 1000 Moms Project and the legacy of thanks to your own Mom now caring for these mothers and babies for another year, into 2013.
Your love goes on and on up the narrow, hard road and this whole community is making a difference — in Jesus’ name. Christmas in July!
Would you please just take one moment of your day — and if you are American — would you spend just a moment praying for one of these children? And if you are in Canada — would you please just pray for one of these children?
I can never thank you enough for considering being Christ’s hand and feet here in Haiti — of sponsoring a child here in Haiti.