It was a rag-tag mushroom with a spindly stem on three wheels. The once canvas umbrella covered with plastic tarps, hovered above the ancient bicycle, protecting the tiny man and his basket of wares.
I found myself staring at the curious contraption. Then I heard a charming singsongy voice. Tiny and wizened, his eyes twinkled in his aged face. The lines around his deep-set eyes proved that a smile was his usual countenance, even with few teeth to behold.
The foot-long white sticks he held were a mystery to me. About and inch and a half in diameter, he had them bundled in threes. Though he kept chanting the same thing over and over, I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying.
I finally had to ask the tour driver what he was selling,
It was sugar cane,
Peeled, raw and pure.
He sang and chirped and smiled with the genuine grin of a man who enjoyed his job, loved people, and was content with his life.
He didn’t have much, but he his joy was contagious.
I wanted one of his smiles directed at me.
And he made me want to add to his joy.
I wanted to feel in my bones the positivity that radiated off of him.
So I bought a bundle.
As I settled into the bus for the long ride back to Punta Cana, The Preacher looked at me and laughed, “Now what in the world are you going to do with those?”
I had no idea. What was one supposed to do with a bundle of sugar cane?
“Eat them I guess?”
I wasn’t quite sure how to attack them. But determined to figure it out, I unwrapped the first one and examined it. It looked pristine, so I gingerly licked it. Hmmm, it was sweet and sugary.
Now what? There had to be more than just licking, so I bit into it. With a mouth full of pulpy woody fragments, I chewed, and chewed and chewed some more.
The sweet liquid teased my tongue. I soon figured out that it would be impossible to swallow the wad. I guessed it was to be treated like gum, chew until the flavor is gone and then spit it out, right?
That process took about ten minutes. I don’t know how anyone would ever eat a whole sugar cane stick, it would take all day!
As the tour bus zig-zagged through the Santa Domingo traffic, I dozily smiled as I thought of the little man.
I have so much more in physical goods, but what does that really have to do with joy?
True joy bubbles from the deep wells inside our soul. It is not dependent on our circumstances.
I have a blessed life
Not a perfect one,
Not a sorrow-free one,
But I have eyes to see the beauty same as the tiny man.
Ears to hear nature’s song same as him,
A nose to smell the exotic tropical petals same as him,
Nimble hands not gnarled with arthritis like his,
And the ability to revel in the sweetness of the sugar cane on my tongue.
With all those blessings–do I make those around me smile and feel the warmth of God’s love?
Do I truly radiate joy?
Psalms 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
-What brought joy to you today?
-List something everyday this week. Then say a prayer of thankfulness.