Life is extreme where we live. Whether we’d prefer to face it or not, there are hard and dark things happening in my community. School children are sold for sex, young men carry machine guns. A mother is crying because her babies will soon be taken – she cannot kick her habit, her baby was found alone in an alleyway at 9 o’clock at night. A father teaches his six year old to carry a knife. Mothers ache for their sons. Women endure unspeakable violence. There is that man who walks up and down my street every day to use drugs, he is mentally sick and always alone – was that what God dreamt for him on the day he was born, with his eyes shut, rooting around for milk?
This is the darkness. It is sometimes numbing, sometimes overwhelming, but it does compel us to move. Come out, into the ocean at night. Walk in the waves and find the Saviour. And in that sense, living in places like this, we must be honest with ourselves, there can be a sense of adrenaline, where you go beyond your exhaustion and breaking heart, and start reacting to all the stress around you. Fight, get up, fight, help, stretch, don’t stop. What was once an invitation becomes a pull, and you are no longer on the offense, and you can’t remember exactly what you’re fighting for, you only know what you’re fight against. It’s easy to lose your heart out on the sea, being so close to the waves.
But to light up the darkness we release fireworks. And they light up the sky for a while, and they make us feel happy. They sparkle and dazzle, they point us to a greater light. I see this play out in my life, all this releasing of colourful fireworks in an attempt to ward off the dark. We buy a house, Nick makes films, he builds a studio to record local music, I build a preschool, I paint the walls a warm peach, I buy colourful toys, I dream up a sweet little routine. It has been thrilling and such a tremendous gift to be a part of all of these things. Fireworks everywhere, bold crackles of colour sparkling and promising light. I will never stop letting them off, as long as I live.
Dusk falls, the girls play outside, the oven hums ready for chicken nuggets, golden hot for the children. Slow, beautiful life – this is what God has give me, and this is where I began to work out hope with my hands, every single day. I might jolt against the slowness, against the ordinariness, but I will submit. I will stay here, and as I work with hope in my hands like clay, I will see promises fulfilled. God is here, look at us working together. The fireworks may fizzle, but my face is set like flint, no one can stop me stirring this porridge, and I know in my soul that the dawn is on it’s way.