Since moving to Kentucky, I’ve gotten involved with teaching English to refugees. They work hard and occasionally despair of ever learning the language well enough to make it here, and there’s no turning back.
But every so often I see a light come on in one of their faces and I know they are starting to get it. They are starting to think maybe they can learn to navigate the waters of their new circumstances.
Nothing beats seeing that light in their faces. It’s the light of hope.
I SAW THAT SAME LIGHT recently on the face of a father who’s sustained a tremendous blow he hasn’t been able to talk about. For two years now, he’s barely been able to talk about it. But then I told some of my story and something happened.
We are at a cookout.
Men stand over the grill, discussing cars.
Children play tag.
I cease playing hide-and-seek and sit on the patio, chatting. When I reference my story, the great wound sustained and my ensuing withdrawal, that father lights up. He sits upright in his chair and says, “That’s what happened to me!”
And there’s that look, the look of someone who, for the first time in a long time, is starting to think that, while there’s no turning back, there’s a lot of life ahead, and maybe, just maybe, the waters can be navigated.
Nothing beats seeing that light, that hope.
I am again reminded: Our stories, when we risk sharing them, have the power to help set captives free. This is important work in this world.
If I hadn’t stopped playing hide-and-seek, I would have missed it.
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