It was the first day of November. The colorful leaves welcomed me as I set out for a day of work. Driving, I prayed, “God, I want more. Give me life. Give me a glimpse of your kingdom here on earth.”
Easy to pray, harder to believe.
At lunchtime I drove into Homewood, a small, charming suburb of Birmingham, where I immediately felt, you guessed it, at home. The community welcomes you with open arms and seems to say, “Come on in … everybody is welcome here.” In fact there is one day a year set aside called, “We Love Homewood Day” because everyone who lives there loves it so much.
That day I was meeting two friends for lunch, both of them artists. One was a new friend named Elizabeth. Elizabeth had a dream and she wanted to share it with us. We were excited to hear about the vision that God had planted in her tender heart. She is an extremely gifted woman who teaches art to children and adults in a cool studio in Homewood. She’s also a potter specializing in Raku pottery.
Something you need to know about Elizabeth is that she is hearing impaired. She has only a small percentage of hearing even with hearing aids, but she is able to reads lips. In fact, 90% of her communication comes from reading lips. You see, Elizabeth’s parents strongly believed this would be the best way for her to successfully interact with the hearing world.
And interact she does.
As I said, she teaches art to children. Think about that for a minute. Challenged but not overcome, she dreams, creates and acts.
Over a small scoop of chicken salad and another of pimento cheese, we southern girls chattered on and on. The farm table where we sat was surrounded by windows. Light poured in. The turning leaves outside were like giant watercolors hanging from the sky. They created quite a beautiful picture as I sat with my two artist friends. My Mama is a visual person when it comes to God’s creation. She has given me eyes to see and has taught me to appreciate beauty in nature! There was beauty that day in nature as well as in community.
The moments were vibrant, the conversation deep and rich. Watching Elizabeth engage was intriguing. She never missed a beat. As long as she could see us face to face, she was all in, but as soon as we turned away the communication was cut off.
She must see to hear. Elizabeth poured out her heart to us. She expressed her vision.
She spoke of her passion. She told us her story with great emotion. Amazed and in awe, we sat in worship of our shared Creator.
The time ended all too soon as our schedules called, but before we rose, I felt drawn to pray. “Let’s thank God for what He is doing in Elizabeth’s life today. Let’s commit her dreams to Him before we go.” The 3 of us bowed our heads.
Or so, I thought.
In the middle of my prayer, I was side tracked. I remembered that Elizabeth couldn’t hear me unless she was reading my lips. Peeking through the cracks of my eyelids like a young child, I saw that I was right! She was not bowing her head and her eyes weren’t closed. In fact, they were wide open, watching me as I prayed. I immediately lifted my head so we could be together in the moment, expressing our hearts to God in unity.
Before leaving, I had a new visual of God. He, like Elizabeth, looks at me as I pray.
He sees me.
He cares about what I am saying.
He longs to hear my heart.
He is passionate about my words, my expression.
His eyes are not closed, His head is not bowed.
He listens to me with His eyes open.
I am moved. I am grateful. I believe.