Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ponderings of My Heart - Part 2-An Unexpected Parade of Light

What amazes me is how many times we head out to an ordinary event expecting nothing extraordinary, only to encounter God in the most profound ways. I should have known when we were invited to a parade of lights that God was up to something.

CJ was invited to an event which allows the families of pediatric cancer patients and other critical illnesses to watch the Winterfest Boat Parade. The Boat Parade is a literal parade of boats each covered in beautiful lights with music playing as it makes its way through the Ft. Lauderdale water front. Over a million people watch this parade from various locations throughout Ft. Lauderdale. We were invited by the Freedom Waters Foundation to watch the parade at the home of Paul Flanigan, owner of the Quarter Deck restaurants.

When I saw the invitation which read, 'Hosted at the home of Paul Flanigan,' I expected we would be welcome to use his lawn to watch the parade in the beautiful Ft. Lauderdale waterfront neighborhood he lives in. I thought that was extremely generous of Mr. Flanigan. Turns out that my expectations were way off! Let's just say that is not how Paul Flanigan defines 'hosted at the home of.'

We arrived to find his lawn and his home wide open! Come in. Help yourself. Look around. Take pictures by the life size Santa next to the Christmas tree. Admire the gorgeous nativity set on the mantle. Pet our dog. Check out the awesome wall unit that doubles as secret doors to the kids rooms. Play with the train set. Use our bathroom. Sit on our couches. Swim in our pool. Jump on our trampoline. Help yourself! THAT is how Paul Flanigan defines 'hosted at the home of.'

As I walked around pondering all of this in my heart, I was informed that Mr. Flanigan was the gentleman standing at the BBQ pit cooking up some delicious ribs and french fries for the kids. Apparently, Paul Flanigan describes hosted at the home of as cooking for over two hundred people, who are all complete strangers to him, while they wander in and out of his home. In the three or so hours I was there, Mr. Flanigan never left that BBQ pit!

After endless servings of great food, we were then invited to sit on the lawn across the street and watch boat parade. Not only that, but we were told, "Feel free to climb aboard Mr. Flanigan's yacht and watch it from there if you like". There were kids (and adults) continually climbing on and off Mr. Flanigan's boat for an even better view of the boats parading by all covered in lights. Present company not excluded!

I don't know about everyone else that was there, but this all began to hit me really hard. More like a punch in the gut than a pondering of the heart. How many times has someone I invited to my home for a party called and asked, "Can we bring a friend or two?" and I inwardly cringe? How many times have I opened my home to people for an event only to remind them nicely that the party is OUTSIDE? How many times have I gotten frustrated at the mess someones kid left when they were at our house? How many times have I overlooked the eternal for the temporal? How many times have I hurt someones feelings only to protect some lifeless object or save my precious time in cleaning, or worse save money! Ouch! What an example this man set for me! I will never forget it.

Oh yeah, the boat wonder how it was. Just as expected it was beautiful. Lights were dazzling from the boats and reflecting off the water. Music played continuously from the yachts as they paraded by. But the most beautiful light, the Light of Life, was shining across the street through a man standing at a grill flipping ribs. The most beautiful music of the night was being played as the fire sizzled at his fingertips. The boats were pretty alright, but that is real beauty. I am so glad I didn't miss it.

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:17)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)


Anonymous said...

Love it, love it, love it! And thank YOU for all the work you do to help others who are suffering and dealing with a cancer diagnosis in their children. You are a light to us!
love, aunt karen

gathering said...

Thank you for such an inspiring post. I could picture Mr. Flanigan flipping ribs and sharing his home with all of you. Love, Alexa