And his story helps me reflect on an aspect of life here that I find satisfying: entering the battle, small-time. The struggles are local and tangible. One child whose mother abandoned him and whose grandmother has to scramble to provide gets connected to food, and good triumphs. One miniscule triplet is brought to us because we've taken an interest in her survival since well before birth, and her little spleen seems too large and her breath too labored, so we divert her to the lab and catch a potentially life-threatening malaria, hopefully in time for rescue. Another one-year-old fails to improve on two full weeks of treatment, prompting further investigations which reveal probable TB, and a life that would have ended in the next few months now should continue for decades. An 8-month-old shyly smiles on her second day of admission, and her tired HIV-infected mother breathes a sigh of relief when her child's test shows that the virus has not been transmitted thanks to treatment and grace. Another baby's subtle lip-smacking is recognized as a seizure, prompting a lumbar puncture (only after arguing to convince the lab to give a specimen container) which reveals cloudy amber fluid of the wrong sort coating her brain, and she begins treatment for meningitis instead of marching inevitably towards death. All of this really happened, today. There will be more tomorrow, more small stories of grace and healing, of averted disaster and renewed hope. One child here, another there. Small steps towards the Kingdom Come, slow progress towards the New Heavens and New Earth without empty stomachs, infected brains, lonely people, or gaping lips.
Some people need to legislate justice, some need to delineate diseases, some need to change the agricultural approach of a whole nation. Many need to manage programs, to plan projects and see them through. God has asked us, over these many years, to do a bit of all that. But mostly He asks us to just engage on the very specific, obscure, remote, unnoticed field of battle day by day, to struggle for one life at a time. Just because it's the right thing, and He cares about individual lives, even small ones. Just because one baby's life struggle in Palestine a couple of thousand years ago was a local focus of cosmic war, and the same danger and desperation that is repeated in a million little lives every day. Eugene Peterson writes about the necessary privilege of staying grounded in the reality of one unglamorous locale, with a view of how that hand-messy real-people service fits into a glorious behind-the-veil unimaginable drama.
So Kyomenda's smile represents all that: the final triumph of good over evil, foreshadowed in one baby at a time.