Sunday, August 20, 2006

Unconditional love...

She approached me, her left arm dangling and her left leg dragging in the dirt. She stopped, and looked at me, a smile slowly coming from her face, the left side of which drooped from her stroke she had at birth. She waited, not too far away, but not too close either. I smiled back, and she came closer, her smile now wide and unrestricted, her eyes dancing. And then she collapsed. She fell to the ground, hitting the right side of her head, like she has done 10 to 15 times a day for years, her seizures barely controlled despite 2 medications. Teresa and I knelt down next to her, protecting her head the best we could, trying to make sense of who she was and what was happening. She began to awake after a few minutes, and sat up against the wall of the building, and that is when I saw the lumps, brusies, and her swollen eye from all the falls she had had. Her story was one of many that drained me of my expectations of humanity.

She has been like this since birth, cared for off and on by a mother, but mostly left to herself. 4 years ago, a man in her village offered to help adjust her medicaitons, feigning to know how to treat seizures, and lured her into his house where he raped her. Her 4 year old son is a child who comes to the Makholweni Mercy Center for food every day.

During the week that I was there, she would come to the Center everyday, sit patiently on the ground and wait for class to get out. She would come up to Teresa and I and place her arms around us, hugging and not wanting to let go. I had been teaching about "covenant relationships" with patients, and the need to look beyond our own distaste for the ugly, malformed, dirty, and sickening illnesses. It is that "covenant" relationship that is the foundation for the "unconditional love" we should have for all those who are "forgotten."

There was one man who violated her. But there is one bigger than him who gives "unconditional love", no questions asked...He loves her unconditionally, and I saw it in her smile.....may we be able to love like Him...always...

In all things, give thanks.