Today Annie, Olivia and I had a playdate with one of my good Japanese friends, Nat. and her daughter, who is Annie’s age. I always love being with her, and am so thankful that her family lives nearby. Since her older son is two years ahead of Owen, she has also been my culture guide in learning Japanese preschool life.
We had a fun time at an indoor park this morning with our children, and then lunch at a food court. At the end of lunch, Nat. got a sad look on her face. They have had two parakeets for almost four years, who always greet us when we visit. Recently her husband built a new, larger, cage for them, with a nesting area. To their surprise and pleasure, the birds mated, and “Lemon”, the female parakeet, got pregnant. The last few days, however, she became sick, and Nat. shared with me that this morning when they woke up Lemon had died. Her words got caught in her throat, and I could tell this was a very hard thing for my friend. She didn’t know what to do, because the male parrot “Sky” had been in a different cage, and didn’t know that Lemon had died. I suggested that maybe it would be good to put Lemon in with Sky for a little while so Sky would not keep waiting for her to come home. I could tell this would be hard, so I offered to come over and do it for her.
After lunch, we went back to her house, and I took the little lifeless body of Lemon and set it inside the cage with Sky. As Nat. watched, her eyes filled up and she just cried in my arms. These little birds were part of their family; and one was gone.
We have prayed for ways to reach Nat. and her husband (who’s studying English with Eric) – but they have never seemed too open spiritually. After our time with the birds, though, we went inside and had coffee, and Nat. began asking me questions about what it means to be a Christian. She is especially intrigued by another family in our church in which the wife is a Christian but the husband is not. She wanted to know how this could happen…
Today it felt like God arranged our playdate on just the right day when my friend needed a friend, and He allowed me in a small way to care for her. Later this afternoon I was cleaning out some old notes and found this quote, that inspires me to keep waiting and asking God for brighter light:
“There have been times when I have waited months, and even years, at someone’s door. You can’t force your way into a house – it would be breaking and entering. You must simply be there, like warm sunlight, so that seeing you through the window, the other will want to come out. You must imitate God’s unwavering patience with his children, whom he loves… But if the other hesitates too long to come out of his fortress, perhaps it is because my light is weak, so weak that it cannot illuminate the way.” (Michael Quoist, from his book, With Open Heart)