I was strumming on my guitar as we sat around the bonfire when my youngest niece requested that I play “Mr. Lincoln.” Having never played the song before, I searched for the chords and began singing once I found them. The musical prose of the song accurately interprets its melancholy message and has significantly impacted my five-year-old niece. She informed me, “Aunt Leah, I might have tears in my eyes if you play that song. But it’s OK.”
Our Hispanic neighbors joined us for the weenie roast. They brought along homemade potato tacos to accompany our all-American hot dogs—a typical blend of cultural trends. Mario Sr. shared a few fables he learned as an impoverished child, growing up in Mexico. He spoke of the good and evil that his grandmother taught him about recounting the sacred lessons of how God works in “different” ways.
After everyone left, I listened to the sounds of spring and watched as the fire died out. Nearby coyotes howled against an orchestra of crickets and frogs that left an impression comparable to “Mr. Lincoln’s.” A wailing train blew its horn in the distance as if to publicize the array of concealed emotions I’ve experienced this week. I stared into the fire pit pondering the excruciating pain inflicted by burns and it reminded me of the old saying, “if you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.” How quickly we learn that lesson as a child; as it applies to the physical realm. Yet even as adults, we continue to think we are exempt from the dangers of those less tangible.
After enjoying the company of family and friends, I sat alone at the fire. I became aware of my own solitude and the human necessity of its reciprocate: community. There is no greater remedy for one in need of mending. Community—communication—communion—each requires the sharing of something. To share, we rely on one another. We weren’t meant to face this journey alone.
One of Mario’s tales exemplified these lessons through the story of a young man who shared his food and water with others. Though he didn’t have any to spare, they needed it more than he did. Likewise, they saved his life when he was under attack by his own brothers. We are guaranteed trials in this life. We are not guaranteed a support system as we face them. Make yourself available to others by recognizing their needs. The day will come when the tables are turned. I visited a church last week whose pastor mentioned a quote worth passing along: “Adversity doesn’t build character; it only reveals it.”