I can’t even decide what the combination was, but something ignited deep in my lungs when I stepped foot into that sweaty, sweet-smelling chaos of a gathering. And the cinnamon mixed with Christmas music in October and my heart sang to the beat of Hart in that place. And at a place like this it seemed the age or time or status didn’t matter; they were all the right people in the right place for the right time.

Shoe Box night with Hart Ministries

There they stood. Angry, confused, happy and sweetly, those photo’s stood tall and longing to be held while the pink cheeks of children spread from the left and mimicked themselves through the right. And the people they gathered and swarmed like bees at the hive, like bumbling bees at a harvest. And they took the pictures of these children and wrapped them tight in their hands and hearts as they took a table and began to pack.

And as I stood back to watch this beautiful-crazy evolved I heard her say quickly, 535. There were five hundred and thirty five children in those pictures, five hundred and thirty five names, ages, familial and cultural backgrounds filling my eyes and jamming the reality of my heart. Five hundred and thirty five children with brothers and sisters and cousins filling their homes, and finding their way onto a photo and into someone’s heart.

It had only been forty minutes since it all started and the walls were nearing empty. My heart nearing full. Five hundred and thirty five children who would find Christmas will reach them too. In the form of little white boxes filled with needs and treats and remnants of Jesus’ hands… the City of Calgary thought of them all the way in Ukraine, and just wanted to send a little love because of a little Hart and a whole lot of love. And I think that must be it, heart and love, igniting something deep within my lungs. So I stood in long big breaths, taking it all in.