• Innocence

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    I met her weeks ago, confined to the limitations of a wheel chair ~ confined to poverty. Brown hands reaching, brown eyes begging. A new-born babe clung to the clutches of the grace I would show. The youth of her face and the youth in her arms broke me apart. I gave some change and drove away.

    The haunting feeling of injustice followed me as I cared for my babes as I feed them from the abundance of my wealth, bathed them, clothed them. A mother clung to life, just beyond my doors brimming with goodness. I could not function with her need so near. I returned to the place our eyes first met, to the place I found myself ~ just a world away ~ a young mother. We found each other again. I gave her peace offerings. Trying to calm the wrenching feeling building inside. We talked with limitations of class and language. I drove away.

    Today I entered a foreign world. I left the neighbourhood of my wealth and walked her slums until I spotted her crawling in the sand, her shocked smile lighting the horrendous surroundings.
    Her home. Walls built upon the only place that welcomes her, a spot on earth that hasn’t been claimed. Precarious boards built on stilts, inched above black murky water of a lagoon. Waters of filth the foundation of her survival. Her babes shrills escape through the cracks, rattling my bones, my heart.

    I offer her my intentions. Formula for the baby, nourishment ~ beans, rice, water, soap, bottles, clothing. She receives these gifts and searches my eyes with depth, looking for my soul. I crouch to her level, closer to the stench of the waters, closer to poverty. I return her gaze. Tears fill me. My voice is a whisper. I choke on my words “I’m a mother”. She understands. And presents her baby, ripped by the pain of a recent circumcision. I shutter at the crudeness of his wound. I ask of his age, I gasp, two months, I fight the fear gathering in my eyes. He is babe the size of newness, eyes protruding a gut swollen with hunger.
    I lower my eyes, hiding my pain, the fragility of our relationship hangs on my responses.
    I stroke his arm, brown skin dotted with infection. I ask her of her life. She shares her horrors of abandonment. I ask of the babies health. She says he is fine. She knows, I know ~ It breaks us both. We meet again eye to eye. I tell her, plead with her to ask me, for her ~ for his ~ needs. My voice cracks with urgency “If there is anything ~ anything, please ask”.
    The neighbours have gathered around, prostitutes, beggars, thieves, orphans, they speak above us in a language I don’t understand. Humbly the mother asks for medicine to ease her babes pain. I smile a yes. I promise her a return with more water, more food.

    It was in our parting I remembered to ask the babes name. Innocence. My mind raced around the meaning of his name. A baby far from the innocence of safety. So far from innocence.

    As a bowed my head to duck through the exit of her home I bowed my heart in a desperate prayer. That death would not visit. That Innocence would not disappear into the grave of statistics. I prayed that a light of heaven was shone into the shadows of despair. I begged God to help me fight, as a mother, for this baby born of another world.

    I drove away, again. In the quietness, my driver offered me the words of the neighbour’s language. He retold me their words, ‘Jesus has come wearing a white ladies body, bringing gifts of salvation’.

    I returned to wealth and washed the grime of diseases from my skin. My skin shredded raw as my heart. I re-entered my world. I kissed my boy, white, robust. My heart splitting with praise and pain, Innocence lingering with me, enlarging my love, tightening my hold on the Cross where hope and faith exist.