When I told the kids that we were going to clean up the park, they sulked. Bad idea. But it’s ok to be unpopular, I figured. So there we went walking to the park in a row and me looking silly with a huge black plastic bag tied to my sling-bag.
The strangers who were staring at us must be thinking how cruel it was to subject these kids to such punishment. Picking crap, sheesh.
Then one kid asked me why. I told him that the park is dirty and if we want to play here, we need to do our part and clean this place up. He bought it. When others saw him picking up thrash, they followed suit. From sulky kids, they turned into eager garbage collectors. Like children on an Easter egg hunt, every candy wrapper and plastic bottle were like treasures. They were/are amazing.
After getting our hands dirty, we headed to the skate ramps. Climbing up the ramp, they slide down on they backs. When tired, they laid their bodies outstretched on the ramps with their faces looking up to the sky. This is heaven.
One guy even allowed these kids to hijack his skateboard while he took cigarette breaks. After a while, he’d take the skateboard back and show them how it’s done. But the kids still prefer to sit on the skateboard in twos (and sometimes threes). And the guy didn’t mind. We need more people like that.
When we bought them ice-creams, I thought to myself how I should also get myself some. But before I could take out my wallet, one kid shoved an ice-cream to my face, insisting that I share it with him. Soon, every kid started to shove his or her ice-cream to my mouth. They wanted to feed me. I was/am just blown away. I told them that they’re amazing. We all laughed. Two boys gave me flowers they picked from the park on several occasions that day. One of them even covered my car seat with white flowers (I love white flowers). I don’t know why they did it, but I think they will do well romantically when they grow up.
I think these kids ministered to me more than the other way around. They have a way of showing what love is like, rather than what love is not. While it’s always easier to finger-point and say what love is not, many a times we don’t even know what love looks like. And love is not like an illusive beast, Bigfoot or Nessy. It’s here in all the likely places and we only make it hard to find because we think love is hard to come by. I get uncomfortable when I hear preachers say that the only truth is found in the Bible. I don’t know how to respond to that because I keep hearing/seeing truth and love in people, music, art and books. Or comics. And all of these only echo the kind of love and truth that is Jesus. (Speaking of which, everyone reading this should check out Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible. Good stuff. ‘Intervention’ and ‘No Cars Go’ are currently on my loop.)
Before I left them, Saras came up to me and asked for a sayang (in Malay, it means deep love and care. Also an adjective). I thought she meant that she wanted me to sayang her, but instead she gave me a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek. I came here wanting to give love, but I received love instead. The dictionary will tell you that ‘thank you’ in Malay is terima kasih, but that doesn’t even mean much. Terima kasih means receive(d) love or acceptance. I’ve never found a more appropriate time to use it than now.