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Monday, December 08, 2014

A billion sparks

When Mary starts to understand what is happening in her body, in Luke 1, she gets a glimpse of the impossible. Life growing supernaturally.  God-with-us as a fetus.  A world-changing infant.  In her song she anticipates the scattering of the proud, and conversely the exaltation of the humble and the filling of the hungry.

The Advent message always includes this inversion, this against-the-odds outcome that blows away the categories the world assigns.

In this context, I can't help but to keep thinking of the Kenyans murdered in Mandera.  They were the poorest.  People don't live under tarps in a rock quarry on the border of an enemy land breaking rocks by hand into gravel unless they have no other options.  Advent gives hope that these people, whose earthly lives were short and bleak in many ways and ended in unspeakable horror, will be honored in Heaven.

And the Queen of Heaven just may be a mom who I also can't get off my mind.  A couple weeks ago we admitted a tiny jaundiced hungry baby.  Some responsible citizens had organized and brought the baby and his mother to the hospital.  Baby W ended up admitted to the ICU as he battled serious overwhelming bacterial infections in his blood and urine.  We actually seemed to be clearing the infections, but his liver was failing.  What made his situation so desperate was that his mother was mentally retarded, and lived with her own mentally retarded mother.  Which is why neighbors had to band together to bring them for care.  She was able to feed and hold him when told to do so, but in a better world would have been in a group home with careful supervision.  Instead she was probably raped, and became pregnant, with zero social support or capacity.  When Baby W was dying one Saturday morning as I came in for rounds, she was sitting by his bedside, seemingly unaware.  I asked the chaplain to come up and meet with us, and tried to explain the situation to her.  I suppose I expected that this was a bitter best, the kind of death that saves untold future suffering, the early end of a life that was doomed from the start.  And I did not think Mama W would comprehend the finality of his death.

Was I ever wrong.  I think her wracking sobs as she held his little lifeless body and said goodbye were perhaps the saddest thing I've ever seen.

She had next to nothing in this world, and she lost the only thing she had to love, the only love she was getting back, her baby.  Her IQ may have been quite low but her emotional intelligence was perfectly able to grasp her loss.  I didn't know what to say, or how to say it, so I just put my arms around her and shed some tears too.  Then came home and completely lost it.

Bludgeoned rock-breakers, and a broken woman in grief.  These are the people for whom Advent is more than cookies and carols.  Advent is survival, is hope, is an eternity where wrongs turn to right.  Advent brings the billions sparks of life that are the people of Africa and floods the cosmos with their light.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Mark Heard sings "It will not be like this forever" and I guess the only reason it won't is because Mary had a son... praying for you and your family as always.