There is a word in Japanese, 木漏れ日 (komorebi), that means sunlight streaming through the trees. Komorebi is such a perfect and beautiful word to describe this lovely occurrence in nature, and there is really no English equivalent to it.
Right now, you are probably wondering why I am talking about this Japanese word and how it even relates to fall NART; but do not worry. It will all make sense in the end.
Firstly, I would like to explain what NART is. NART stands for Native American Reservation Trip and it is a missions trip that occurs two times a year at Orange Lutheran, once in the fall and once in the spring. On this trip, we work with the Paiute tribe up in Bishop, California where we help serve in a variety of different ways: gardening, construction, landscaping, working at food banks, and numerous other service projects.
The team I was on served at the Elder Garden and at Headstart preschool where we cleaned out and laid wiring down in a chick coop, gardened, harvested strawberries, slatted a fence, cleaned around the school, and came up with some games for the preschoolers to play at an upcoming carnival that they were having. It was such a beautiful experience to serve the community and to watch in wonder of what God has done and is currently doing there.
While on this trip, we spent a great deal of time talking about, being with, and praising the LORD. Every morning we spent 30 minutes in silence so that we could simply be in the presence of Jesus. A senior student led the entire team in a morning devotion and talked about what the LORD has shown them and what He has been doing in their lives. Additionally, every night we worshiped the LORD through song and thanked Him for everything that He has done for us.
Personally, this trip came at a very hectic time. Since the start of junior year, everything has been chaotic and there has not been time to slow down and notice what God has been doing in my life. This is why Fall NART now holds a very special place in my heart and where the Japanese word, komorebi, comes into play.
For the past few months, God has been doing some pretty remarkable things in my life, but since I’ve been “too busy,” I never noticed it. Like many other teenagers that have come before me, insecurity is, unfortunately, something that many of us go through.
On this trip, I reflected on where my heart had been at lately. My mind was plagued with lies of worthlessness and the subtle yet prevalent thought of not feeling like I was enough. This led me to carry this heavy burden in my heart. Because I led myself to believe that I was inadequate and undeserving, I built walls that prevented me from wanting to continue to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus.
If you can see where this is going, Jesus completely broke down these walls, which I didn’t even realize it until one absolutely amazing morning on this trip.
I was sitting down at one of the picnic tables during quiet time with God and it soon started to rain. While some people might have moved to a different spot, I found myself in such a profound state of peace and decided to stay in place while the rain continued to pour down on me. I stopped journaling and looked up and saw something so beautiful. The sun was breaking through the clouds in the distance and started shining through a group of trees. I sat there in complete awe and bewilderment as to why something so seemingly mundane was the source of my deep sense of astonishment.
I then started to think of the theme of the trip—“be still and know”— and sat there in stillness. I continued to marvel at the sunlight filtering through the tree branches (komorebi) and soon reached a revelation of what God was trying to show me. Just like the sunlight was breaking through the tree branches, I realized that God had been breaking through the barriers I had been putting up around my heart. Over the past few months, God was using His light to shatter any lie of worthlessness or inadequacy that had been bombarding my mind so that He could illuminate His everlasting love.
I realized that God was always there with me. He persisted. He followed me. No matter how many times I questioned His love for me, His love remained. It never wavered. Even when I denied it, it was there. And it will stay there for all of eternity. Because He created us in His own image. We are the children of the Most High God. How crazy is that? How could I doubt who I was when I was made by the Creator of the universe?
There’s a song called “Prince of Peace” by Hillsong United which beautifully depicts this love the LORD has for us. It says, “Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war. When night screams terror there Your voice will roar. Come death or shadow, God I know Your light will meet me there.”
And so through the image of komorebi, I saw the work of God. I saw His faithfulness for me. I saw how He tore down my walls around my heart and let His light shine through it, so that I can see and appreciate His persistent and everlasting and unchanging and perfect love that He has for me and every one of us.
Photo Credits: Jalen Gooch