I called the high school, told the secretary that Luke needed to check out. The voice on the phone asked if he was sick, explaining that she had to write the reason on the checkout sheet.
“Well, no....actually, his class is watching a movie today in Economics and he needs to come home and get into a Santa suit. His Spanish class is throwing a Christmas party for a kindergarten class and he wants to come here to get ready.”
The secretary didn’t argue. I assured her he would check back in later after the party.
A few minutes later, my seventeen-year comes bounding in the front door. Santa’s wardrobe was all ready and laid out around the living room.
The skinny boy needed some heft so I helped him get the European sham from guest room bed belted on to pad his waist. We then took a king pillow to run down his back and into his velvet pants to beef up his backside.
Piece by piece, Luke transformed into Santa.
With his white-gloved hands, he raided my wallet for cash and headed out to Taco Bell. The Santa that left my house last Thursday wasn’t handing out candy canes. The kids would be getting cinnamon twist treats from the jolly ole man.
With a wave from the pick-up, he rolled out of sight.
An hour or so later, the text dinged again. This time it said, “They loved it!!!” Being Santa had made his day.
And then Friday came. In kindergarten classrooms with little tables and little chairs, bookshelves filled with picture books and boxes filled with crayons, a boy so very different from the boy who dressed in the Santa suit, horrified the world when he took the lives of twenty precious children who had come to school on a chilly Connecticut morning.
We wait with courage during the darkness of Advent. We wait for peace to come to us, to the world.
But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. Job 30:26Will those whose hearts are broken, shattered, ever find light in such darkness?
I don’t believe in Santa but I believe in hope even in the midst of darkness. I believe because Jesus was buried in darkness and was raised in glorious light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
I have hope because of Jesus and because of boys like Luke. And I don't say this just because he's my son. I have hope because Christ left his Spirit to shine his light into the darkness of this world. The darker the world the brighter His light shines in his children---in boys like Luke.
Early Saturday, my boy headed out the door with overstuffed backpacks. This time he was headed to Haiti for the week with a group from the church. I worried whether we had made a mistake to let him go especially with the semester finals that he would miss and have to make up. The junior year is so important---at least that is what I have thought and what I have said. It’s been only six months since he first visited Haiti. He wanted to go. How could we say no?
So I sit this morning with my boy a world away from me---a world so different from our home. I will have no one-on-one communication with him. This week I have given him to God and to Haiti. I remember that the world holds no easy answers to why a seventeen year old with a big grin can bring cinnamon twists and joy to a kindergarten class one day and why another boy, a few years older, can kill unmercifully the next. The paradox boggles the mind. Is there any way to make sense of how this can happen, how choosing death over life can be understood?
I am thankful that Luke is choosing life----to share his life with a the kids he hangs out with and “teaches” Spanish to every week at the school down the hill from the Country Club, and with the kids he will play soccer with this afternoon on the concrete court up the hill from the blue Caribbean.
Luke is choosing life. But the greater truth is, Life has chosen him. And little by little, the Way, the Truth and the Life is making Luke into a life-giver.
Luke and his friends on team USA won’t win the soccer game this afternoon.
After, a frantic match on a concrete basketball court, the little Haitian boys will link arms after their victory and sing in celebration, “OLE OLE OLE OLE, OLEEEE, OLEEEE…” And they will feel loved and remembered and full of life.
May Luke always choose cinnamon twists over candy canes and mission trips over finals. As his mother praying for him a world away, I pray he will always find Jesus is the fullness of life over every other thing the world has to offer. I pray he will understand the blessing of being a gift given, of being a joy in the world.
He is a joy in mine.