I like to believe that we are all connected, sometimes in mysterious ways. I like to believe that when we are comfortable and happy, our joy is celebrated all across time and space, that all kinds of spirits...friends and strangers, departed souls, angels and saints...laugh and clap their hands for us. I imagine the heavens resounding with pure delight.
And I like to believe that when we suffer, we are connected with every soul that has ever suffered...that the spirits flock around us with tears in their eyes. I am certain that they know what it is like for us when our hearts are heavy, when we are powerless, because they have known pain themselves.
Perhaps the spirits surround us because someone was there for them and it helped alittle bit. Maybe not. Perhaps they bore their suffering alone...without hope...longing for someone to rescue them or heal them or comfort them but no one came. And it was so unbearable that they promised right then and there that no human being should ever have to suffer alone again.
So, they gather around us to celebrate our joy and to ease our suffering whether we believe in them or not.
I like to believe in them because I've seen them at work...for example, when, against all odds, a biopsy is negative and prayer dissolves into relief.
When I am witness to those fleeting moments just before the sun peeks out over the hilltop and announces the new day in colors too bright and deep for words...
while the rest of the world sleeps...or showers and shaves...or watches the morning news. Someone invited me...woke me up and shoved me out the door just in time...because in the blink of an eye, you can miss it.
When I haven't spoken to a friend for a while and I pick up the phone to learn from her that she was just a moment away from calling me. Someone was at work. Someone connected us even before we realized it.
This, I believe, is what happened back in October when I received a call from a total stranger...from a church I don't belong to...with an invitation to participate in a medical mission to Tanzania.
When the news is bad. When the biopsy is malignant and in an instant, you understand how it is for everyone else who has ever faced the same fear and dread and anger and sorrow. Someone teaches you.
When suffering enters in. When the weather turns cold and the heat goes off and you can't get warm and you can't keep your children warm.
When you're hard at work that just can't wait and you start to feel hungry but you can't stop to eat...and then you get really hungry. It reminds us that there are people everywhere who are cold and can't get warm, who are hungry and have nothing to eat...who starve...who die or watch their children die. Someone reminds us about the poor and their suffering.
Listen up. You may be the one who is being called. The spirits may be reminding you, teaching you, calling you in ways you never imagined. Someone, somewhere may need to feel your touch, to hear your words, to surrender to your care. It might be a family member or a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker...or, as in my case, it might be someone half way around the world who needs your comforting presence, your expertise, your encouragement.
This blog will trace my recent journey to the small village of Lobosoit, Tanzania with a team of men and women from Christian Life Assembly in Mechanicsburg, PA ( http://www.christian-life.com). In Lobosoit we witnessed the disabling effects of poverty, hunger, chronic pain, and untended illness among strangers who welcomed us with trusting and hopeful hearts.
And even though there is considerable negative commentary regarding the advantages and disadvantages of efforts like these to extend aid to the people of Africa, there is no doubt that illness was cured on our watch. That friendships were forged and sustained. That cultural differences were honored. No small task.
"The only real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes."
In my next post I'll tell you how this all started.