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Friday, November 10, 2006

Small things new

“Christians have been invited to live beyond triumphalism and despair, spending ourselves for a cause we firmly believe will win in the end.  In a vision lovely enough to break a person’s heart, John shows us (in Rev 21) that heaven comes to us and renews this world.”  (C. Plantinga)

A little glimpse of heart-breaking loveliness in, of all places, the AIDS clinic.  I didn’t recognize my patient—my handwriting was all over his chart, but I just couldn’t place the kid in my mind.  Then I realized he’d gained more than five pounds (more than a 20% increase for his small body!) in the last month or so since he started antiretrovirals, the specific medicine that treats the HIV virus.  This toddler was sitting on his mom’s lap playing peek-a-boo with a pair of tattered shorts worn, of all places, over his head. He wasn’t actually sitting, he was squirming, laughing, and engaging my eye whenever I looked up from the papers.  Between the rounded cheeks and the perky playfulness I did not recognize the struggling lethargic child of two months ago.  A small thing, but being made new, a taste of redemption in a game of peek-a-boo.  Remember Mumbere, the only picture his grandmother has of his dead mother?  Another little picture as he snuggled into her side, clearly attached and at home, no longer the pitiful crying baby that his dying mother could not cope with, now he feels somehow safe and at home.  The AIDS clinic this week:  I am never too much tempted towards triumphalism in that epicenter of suffering, but neither was I crushed by despair.  We are spent, literally, day by day, but thankful for small things picturing newness, reminding us all to hope.

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