Touched By Easter-Finally
Monday, February 02, 2017
I awoke agitated and far from refreshed. In my dream I was destined for the Kingdom of Tonga but got confused at the airport and managed to board the wrong plane. I missed this big event that I had so much longed for. Easter had just happened and despite my best efforts to celebrate it and allow the mystery of it to engage me, I felt it had passed and I had missed it. The opening prayer of the Monday went like…” Lord you touch our lives with the healing power of your love in this Easter …” I was very low as this was not my experience.
Last Tuesday I drove off for Ruben Centre as usual but very aware that these agitations had left me flat and I had a faint feeling that my dream was more about Easter than Tonga and surely it was more about loss and death in my life than about missing some event.
BBC news and the constant stories of death and suffering were just noise and so I pushed the CD button and was soon lost in a Passenger song
‘Let Her Go”
“Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go,
Only know you’ve been high when your feeling low………..
Maybe you will understand why everything
You touch surely dies……….
Arriving I felt it was literally snowing and yes too many loves lost in my life, too much dead human love to be touched by the divine Easter love.
Mechanically I opened the office door and without knowing it let myself into that missed Easter story.
- The social worker arrived with a big story about a woman and two little kids in her office who needed my help. She had come down from Central Kenya after her husband had died and after she had all her possessions and the house taken by the family of the deceased husband in accordance with the cultural practice. A woman had offered her house for a week but she was now homeless again. “Ruben must help her with rent,” I said.
- I got reviewing the recent Festival Day we had at Ruben for about ninety staff. I had a questionnaire to fill in and met with three groups of staff, administration, clinic and social department and listened to their memories of the day and their feelings around,’ It was good to be there”
- A woman and boy came in and soon I came to realize it was the boy that one of my sisters was sponsoring at Secondary school. Mama talked of the relief of having him at school and Alex proudly showed me his report for term 1.
- I left the office for the library and librarians and we got planning how to adapt the library to accommodate the one hundred and fifty I T tablets we were to receive when Term 11 starts. Good energy in this.
- I was called over to the hall to watch the kids enjoying a holiday program of dance. I was amazed at the intensity and engagement written all over their faces, as they were lost in the dance and just forgetting for a moment they were slum kids. It is not rocket science.
- Back in the office the Voluntary Savings and Loans coordinator was there to share a story of success with me. The mothers of our Special Needs Children have formed savings groups and two of these groups are now requesting their fourth loan after successfully paying back previous loans. Each loan doubles in worth as trust grows and their empowerment is realized. He went on about how excited they were in their meeting, and how different their lives are now with their kids in care and school and how they are making progress to economic stability.
- Ruben Centre has this incredible counsellor and Sister belonging to Daughters of Heart Of Mary Congregation. Then two weeks ago her congregation informed us they wanted her back.’ Oh no,’ I cried out, for she has totally won over all hearts and minds of parents, kids and staff. I wishfully declared that the cry of, ‘ Sister Sister,” from the kids must continue to be heard and there on this day an Augustinian sister trained in counselling and 6 years of experience in slums was suddenly in my midst uttering, “ peace be with you Brother, relax I am here.” A miracle.
- Then it was the turn of two young former students come into the office and share their experience of participating in the recent Easter Basket event held by the school. Over four hundred kids got food for Easter and the ‘alumni’ had helped make a success of the day. They now want me to assist them with a framework that will nourish their endeavours and help them bond as a group so that their intention of putting something back into the community can be sustainable. I have an idea!
- The other social worker is in the office talking about the need to fund the return of a woman to her village. Apparently we had spent money on throat surgery but the cancer was not contained and she has only to die now. Do it!
- The clinic manager arrives with a small crowd including a tiny baby. I didn’t immediately recognize the mother at first, mistaking her for just the girl that she was. She was raped last year and now at thirteen years and six months she has given birth. Her grandmother was present and she had brought her to Nairobi after she had given birth in a pharmacy four days ago. The clinic staff examined her and given the trauma of the birth she needed lots of stitches. This new mother was refusing to touch or feed the child and jaundice was evident. I had to have a nurse, see up close and touch this wee miracle of life and then I went and searched for our women who soon arrived with gifts of clothes, and pampas and were all over the thirteen year old with touch, chatter and love. Then as they gave back the child to this still silent and expressionless wee girl, she opened her dress and began feeding HER BABY. Then in came a staff member of the Wangu Kanja program with big news. She had a home for both mother and child and they could go tomorrow and in time the girl could go back to school and finish her last year of primary school. Every one cheered but for the new mom who remained lost in the feeding of her child, but we all knew her time for joy will come. What a team
I left the Centre shortly after 5.00pm and switched back to BBC news. I was changed. Later I wrote down the moments of the day and reflected on the day’s gospel of disciples journeying to Emmaus.
How blind they were to seeing, how deaf they were to hearing and how slow they were to believe?
For a long time I have talked of Ruben Centre as the,’ privileged place to live the gospel” and yet it is easy for me to forget. “ Only miss the sun when it starts to snow, only know you’ve been high when your feeling low, only know you love her when you let her go ” stuff. I had walked that talk this day and it led me, as all post resurrection stories do, to re enter my experiences, my letting go (s) and I no longer felt distant from the Easter event or that I had let go of too much love.
Healing fingers and wounds, nets full of fish, miracles and the warm feeling of life and fellowship are no longer just ancient biblical experiences.
That nightmare of missing the plane to Tonga invites me not to live in the past or to see Easter as an historical event but rather an invitation to participate in the same creative love and power which had flowed from the man Jesus, but which is now still within my touch. My day at Ruben opened my eyes and I was no longer slow to believe. Sure Jesus may be dead but the Christ and creative love are very much alive. Wonderful and alive Tonga is my here and now. This Easter story tells me that love given away transforms my heart for new love.
I am being invited to wake from my numbness, leave my nightmares in the empty tomb and believe again in a transformed life.
And in time may our wee new mom also believe her life has been touched and transformed by her Easter event at Ruben Centre.