I met Dani in 2013. He and his brother had opened a pizza shop just below the home where I was staying. They were friendly, Sergio was goofy, Dani seemed to be serious much of the time, though very kind. One bite of their pizza and I was hooked! I had never tasted anything like it. The flavors were fresh and the combinations were some that I had never tasted. My favorite pizza that summer was a pumpkin cream, bacon and cheese pizza. I ordered it with trepidation, quite hesitant about pumpkin on pizza, but was converted in my first bite.
Dani, his brother and the staff at Hot Home Pizza quickly became family. We spent that summer laughing at our inability to communicate with words and laughing at the things we each understood without words. We laid on the beach watching shooting stars at 3a.m., greeted each other daily with smiles and the traditional kiss on each cheek, and by the end of the summer, we each were sad to see it end.
I saw them again in 2015. The restaurant had changed its name to The Pizza Factory and had moved to Benidorm, a town about 15 minutes away, known for it’s tall buildings and Las Vegas like lifestyle. Business is better there, but it now required a bus ride to get to them. You bet I made the trip at least once a week. We could talk a bit more, our English and Spanish skills had increased, or our confidence with one another had grown.
Dani and I text often, mostly checking in and trying out the little of the other’s language we know. We have been able to speak of some things of substance. I have spoken of Jesus and my love for Him and he has shared about parts of his story that have been significant. Our friendship is one that I treasure.
Last night Dani came over and we chatted for nearly 4 hours. He spoke in Spanish nearly the entire time and I English. I understood nearly every part of the conversation. Granted we spoke of things easily understood. It is very difficult to speak of ideas, and non-tangibles as the nuances of language are terribly difficult.
As he left I was reminded about the beauty of human connection. It was nearly 5 years ago that we first met and our friendship has not been built upon commonality, agreement, or even depth of conversation, for our conversations can not go to those places. As we sat and talked last night I was so thankful for the time to be here, reconnect with people who I rarely have the pleasure of seeing and being able to speak of things that matter… even if it was with first grade Spanish and English.
I wonder a bit if our relationship with Jesus is similar. He accepts us and loves us, not because of anything we have done or said, but simply because we are. Jesus looks forward to connection and does not shame us when we have not reached out for days on end. His love is always present and we must merely choose it, to access it. And, the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we know His voice and understand His words to us. They become familiar and soon become a language we too know to speak.
This time in Spain has been a gift. I continue to lean into Jesus and hear His voice and my soul along with the rest of me seem to be catching up with one another. I look forward to what is ahead with great anticipation.
As I wrote of Jesus and His desire for connection with us, do you find that you trust Jesus accepts your choice to connect even if it’s been days, months or even years? Do you know that His posture towards you is one of love and grace at all times?
You are so loved. May you walk in connection with Jesus today and may your connection with Him increase your attentiveness to His voice and desire for relationship with you.