I don’t wear a watch on an everyday basis. I usually have my phone with me and just prefer to pull it out and look at the time. I have a watch that I wear when I run that helps me know how fast (actually how slow!!) I am running. When I traveled to Haiti, I knew I wouldn’t have my phone with me all the time so I wore my watch just to make sure I was where I needed to be. Once you’ve been to Haiti you understand that you just need to be familiar with “ish” time. That is where stuff that is supposed to happen at 9:00 happens at “9ish.” All the same, I wore my watch.
I didn’t think my watch would be a big deal. Until one morning I was in the Miriam Center and a little boy named Jean noticed my watch. I was holding another little boy, sadly no one around knew his name, when Jean came over and wanted to play. Having my hands occupied the only thing I could do was make the light on my watch illuminate which thrilled Jean. I would push the button and his eyes would get wide. He would cover his face and laugh and laugh. Then he would push the button and we would repeat the process. After about fifteen minutes I needed to leave because it was “time-ish” for us to go to the construction site.
Later that afternoon, Jean and I hung out in the common area playing with play-dough, taking pictures (the boy is quite the photog!) and making my watch light up. Jean has a magical smile that makes you feel like the light that is burning inside him is about to explode all over you at any moment. We became really good buds over the few days I was there and I hope to see him again when I get to return.
As I have thought about Jean and the light on my watch I am reminded that light is so fundamental. It is a necessity to accomplish what we want to accomplish. It protects us, guides us, and helps us feel secure. I know many people afraid of the dark, but I don’t know anyone afraid of light.
As a follower of Jesus we are light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” When our life is filled with him, we illuminate the darkened places that exist in our world. Whether it is a boy in Haiti who thinks a small watch light is special, a family in South Florida fighting to keep their heads above water financially, or a distressed teenager who needs someone to tell them they are valuable, we have the answer. We can illuminate the way.
As I ran yesterday, I glanced at my watch and thought of Jean. It was a bright, beautiful, summer day in Florida. But I couldn’t help but reach down and push the button to turn on the light. And then, I smiled.