Nikusubila is an African name. It means “hopeful.”

A year-and-a-half ago, I was walking through Hobby Lobby – piddling, really (a.k.a. wandering aimlessly about with no life goal other than to admire hoards of other peoples’ things I cannot and should not own) – and I came across a figurine of a young boy wearing a safari hat. His expression was sweet, like he was watching something of interest across a field, happily forgetting his present task at hand. Just like a boy!

I picked up the figurine and fingered the boy’s round cheeks. I liked the color of his skin, the shape of his scrawny arms and chicken legs. Everything looked and felt just right. He reminded me of…

No! I quickly set the figurine back down. Silly. Ridiculous, even. I did not need a figurine of a boy in my home. I loathe dusting, and this would be just another item to collect dust.

I escaped around the nearest aisle to look at picture frames and candles. Yes, that was safe. But, even as I checked prices on frames and sniffed waxy confections my mind was on that boy. His posture was just so charming and familiar. He had rolled his shirt sleeves up to his elbow, and he was resting his right hand on a hip as if he was waiting for someone to catch up with him.

That settled it.

I walked back to the figurine, picked him up, and paid for him at the cash register before I could chicken out. This was more than an impulse buy. This was hope in action.

For, you see, this boy looks like my son. I have never actually met him. I have only seen him in my head and in my heart, but that afternoon in Hobby Lobby I saw him with my eyes.

Nikusubila now stands in his bare feet on my fireplace mantel where I can look at him and keep hoping that, God willing, I may someday catch up with my son.