I noticed them as I walked across the bridge into Rocinha; though it wasn’t them, rather what they carried that caught my eye. The mother-son team delicately maneuvered through the crowded street, carrying between them a 12’x 12′ transparent bag, full with balls of different colors. The small plastic kind that children gleeful dive into at play areas at fast food restaurants as their parents watch, wary of the diseases their child might be embracing.
As they slowly moved down the street I longed to run after them, rip open the bag, and watch as a cascade of colors captivated the prosaic street. Stray dogs would move now with purpose in pursuit of the balls, small children would cry with delight as they filled their arms with as many balls as they could, girls would run away laughing as the balls chased after, boys would enthusiastically begin a snowball fight with them. Men and women, both young and old, would stop the mundane task at hand to watch the band of outlaw balls attempting to roll to freedom.
Removing the smile that had formed on my face as this scene played through my mind I continued my trek into Rocinha. The balls, still prisoners inside the bag, drifted away in the opposite direction. I sighed a silent prayer, feeling maybe I should apologize to God in case I had offended him with the scene that had performed in my head.
The balls were not mine, so what right would I have to to release them? And people could fall because of them, dogs jaws mistakenly grasp a leg instead of a ball, eyes be poked in due to a poorly aimed throw, not to mention the devastating impact the plastic balls could have on the environment. I chided myself with these truths; unable however, to stop the smile that brushed my lips whenever this scene flicked through my head the rest of the day.
Two days later, as I left my room to head to the pool, a flash of color on the patio stopped me. I slid open the patio door, unable to believe what I saw until it was in my hand. “It” was a bright, yellow, plastic ball. I laughed aloud as tears flooded my eyes; overwhelmed by my Fathers fierce, loving call that rushed through me as my fingers clasped the ball.
The imagined scene, to which I was the only witness, He had watched alongside. Even more than that, He didn’t want to scold me, He wanted to tell me how much He loved me. He saw the longing within me wasn’t to harm people, but to awaken them from their apathy motions through life. A desire to fight the ironic tragedy of the “normal life.” One where people drudge through life obtaining money, only to discover later on they can no longer even enjoy money, only drudgery. Those who learn to build playgrounds, but forget how to play.
Worried others would think I was childish (or just plain crazy) if I told them about what I had imagined, I had kept silent, telling no one. But this crazy is what He LOVES. Because his love for us cannot be supported by man’s shallow reasoning nor can it fit into our constricted definition of normal. His love isn’t normal, it’s crazy. By giving me a small plastic ball He reminded me that my core identity was rooted much deeper than any title or adjective.
My core identity; I am beloved by God,
Radically beloved by God.