Thoughts on joy and sidewalk chalk

There is a line in a hymn we sang growing up that I never understood.

sorrow and love flow mingled down.

It seems that love and joy can’t possible be in the mix of sorrow and hopelessness.  But, I think I am finally catching on.

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A family who adopted one of XN’s kids last week brought us some art supplies including some sidewalk chalk.  I could hardly wait to share it with the kids and was so relived to have a sunny afternoon.  You should have heard the kids squeal when I suggested we take art class outside.  It took some effort to get us all outside and then some doing to pick just the right section of concrete to be graced by our colorful designs.  Oh, but once we were out there…the fun really began!  The cook spied us from the kitchen window and brought us all a treat of homemade yogurt and bananas.  One boy said, “It is like a birthday party!”

I can’t describe the joy.

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How blessed I am to help a child from his wheelchair down on to the ground so that he can create.  I stood back and watched them and I seriously thought my heart would burst.

An hour later I helped wheel the same children back inside.  My cup was overflowing, but a grief I can not described rested in my heart as well.  They didn’t want the magic of the afternoon to come to an end.  I didn’t want to leave them behind again.  I can not walk away from that orphanage leaving the precious souls I have come to love without shedding a tear.


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Most of my life I have thought that true faith means pushing aside sorrow.  I shouldn’t say anything negative.  Sickness, grief, and sadness are things to be pushed aside with thoughts of better days.


“oh the wonderful cross….”

The thing is, my faith actually is based on something pretty brutal and sad, but at the same time called wonderful, beautiful and the only source of true hope.

So this might sound crazy, but I am learning to sit in the midst of sadness and sickness and see beauty and feel joy.  I have mentioned (in many intense blog posts over the past months…wooeheee, don’t unsubscribe yet) that offering art class isn’t enough for these kids.  That is true; adoption is what they really need.   But, it is a beginning.  I am sitting with them on the warm cement and laughing with them.  Then, when they don’t want to go back to the halls of the institution they call home….I cry with them.  That is all I have to offer.  In that offering I am finding a freedom to dance with joy and cry in sorrow in the same space in the same moment.


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I can believe Gd in the midst of hopelessness.  I can believe him as I sit in sorrow.  I can wear those emotions that in the past have seemed like the bench marks of shallow faith and actually see they are the opposite.  My ideas of joy and love are dying and being replaced by grace that understands JC is in the midst of all pain.

A remake of that same hymn from my childhood states it so much better than I could.

O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, 
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.


One thought on “Thoughts on joy and sidewalk chalk

  1. Tammy, I am so thankful you are there. You are such a ray of sunshine to them. You bring Fathers love! Is the boy in blue my little friend whom I miss so dearly! I’ll be there I
    End if august for a short time! Can’t wait to see you!

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