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Friday, October 21, 2016

On Heroes, Beast's Bellies, and Better Days

Tuesday was a hard day, a beat-your-head-against-the-wall kind of hard day.  It seems for me, a wall unmoved by head-banging futility must be necessary to remember the Truth:  the way up first goes down.

Because as the week winds down, the light is breaking through.  Time, pause, perspective, prayer, and some thought-provoking reading about the Cross.  Rohr reminds us that the sign Jesus mentioned was the sign of Jonah.  But who wants to be swallowed by a whale??

We seldom go freely into the belly of the beast.  Unless we face a major disaster, such as the death of a friend or spouse or the loss of a marriage or job, we usually will not go there.  As a culture, we have to be taught the language of descent because we are by training capitalists and accumulators.  . .We would prefer clear and easy answers, but questions hold the greatest potential for opening us to transformation.  . We Christians are given the privilege to name the mystery--as the path of descent, the Way of the Cross, or the paschal mystery.. . If that isn't saying you win by losing, what is it going to take for us to get the message?  How often do we have to look at the Crucified and miss the point?  Life is all about winning by losing--losing with grace and letting our losses teach and transform us.  And yes, this is somehow saying that God suffers--and our suffering is also God's suffering, and God's suffering is ours (Col 1:24).  That has the power to transform the human dilemma  . . 

So we will muck on in the dark, trusting that being wrong, stubborn, foolish, stumbling missionaries is a paradoxical road to glory.

And as we moan over our pitifully small sufferings, we also look up to see daylight shining through.  Pretty much every day, we can see opportunities to save a life.  In spite of my impatient mouth, my team is growing to trust and listen.  We're enjoying the seeds of friendships with colleagues.  The last couple days have included some fun moments:  teaching trainees to do procedures like a lumbar puncture, walking them through a resuscitation, seeing the effect of giving glucose to a baby who wakes up from a convulsing coma, brainstorming together about how to get something done.  Almost every morning I find out about a death of some infant, which is still bewilderingly hard.  But almost every day there's a death averted, or several.  We got feedback this week that the sweet 8-year-old "M" who went to Kijabe for a head CT after her neurologic status slipped, was confirmed to have TB in her brain, not a tumor.  She should recover.  The starving, semi-abandoned 5-year-old "C" greets us every morning with a heart-melting smile, the difference food makes as her swollen face transforms from listlessness to joy.  My first Man-U-named patient Martial, a former preemie who came in malnourished, is perking up too.  A Serge team family who came to Kenya for medical care for their baby, now improving, finally thriving (and thanks to prayer, all four kids we were very concerned about a few weeks ago on our teams have turned corners towards health!).

Pray for "J" who is still quite ill
The fun side of being Area Directors: breakfast with visiting team
(and when you can't see hope in patient improvement, there's always trucks on the road to encourage you)

This week Kenya celebrated Heroes' Day.  Which leads us to think about who the true heroes are.  The volunteer that is feeding "C", and showing her the healing love her short life has lacked.  The interns who write up five, or ten, or twenty new admissions in a night.  The nurses who scurry around finding tubing and ceftriaxone and 50% dextrose and syringes as we work on a baby.  My own kids, bravely forging ahead in unfamiliar places, running miles upon miles with heavy packs, learning about mental illness in prisons, pouring into the newer students around them, navigating uncertain futures.  Our teams, facing corruption and danger and suffering.  All the unseen people at our elbows, willingly walking a descending, cross-like path, for the good of others.
Heroes' Day Parade

And of course, my personal hero, living in this dorm-room-like life, walking into chaos unsure of our welcome or role, making Swahili mistakes, figuring out how to live in a new (and lower) station in life.
(scrubs washed by hand each morning, strung on balcony)

(Heroes' Day TREAT)

(Longonot Rim a week ago)

(Quick evening bike ride, less than a mile from town)

Friday evening, at last, and the Truth holds:  Heroes get swallowed, and crucified, and emptied, and stressed.  But glory follows descent, light comes through the clouds, and Love always wins.

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