Posts Tagged ‘pain’

There is already too much death in Swaziland

May 15th, 2012 1 comment

Last Tuesday morning started like usual… in fact, it had a certain air of excitement to it: We had just informed a few of our staff members that they would be traveling to the United States for an AIDS conference.  Adults who rarely show excitement were bursting with smiles, almost to the point of giggling.

Unfortunately within a few hours the whole community around us was bursting with a different type of emotion: raw sorrow and pain.  We found out around 10am that the two 2-year-old children of one of our former staff members had drowned in the canal.  They had been staying with their Gogo (grandmother) and had wandered away.  Some of the children on a nearby homestead saw them in the water and called their parents.  By the time people reached them both were already dead.

I simply don’t have the words to express the amount of sadness and grief that instantly swept through the entire area.  The mother, Nakiwe, was one of our brightest employees before she took a new job to be closer to her husband in Manzini.  The father, Felix, is a police officer, but has worked with Cabrini in the education for years and years, he was apart of life on the mission even before the current sisters were.  The grandfather was one of the major leaders in the church and in his chiefdom.  Probably a quarter of our staff live within a couple kilometers of where the boys drowned.

For five days, friends and family came to the homestead to grieve with the family, but despite the crowds of people, there simply aren’t the words that can be said.  You can’t give an explanation for something as tragic as this and any words of comfort will always ring hollow.

On Sunday morning before the sun came up, Beth, Mikayla and I didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day; instead we had to watch a wonderful mother bury her two innocent children.

There is already too much death in Swaziland. 

At least once a week one of our roughly 3,000 patients dies of HIV or TB.  The country has had to encourage people to only bury people on Saturdays because otherwise there would be no time to do anything but go to funerals.

There is already too much death in Swaziland. 

We deal with severe malnutrition and extreme poverty.  Rape and abuse is a common occurrence and it often comes from those closest to the victims.  Life is tough here under the best of circumstances.

There is already too much death in Swaziland. 

Our community shouldn’t have to deal with pain of losing two toddlers on top of everything else.

I have read the Bible cover-to-cover and spent years studying scripture.  I have a degree in Religious Studies and another in Biblical Studies.  I have spent years teaching and counseling people about God and his work in the world.  But with all that knowledge, I still can’t even begin to answer the question of why things like this happen.  What Nakiwe, Felix, and their families are going through is more than anyone should every have to endure.  We simply cannot justify it or explain it; to even try is insincere and crass. All we can do is mourn and comfort each other in whatever small way we can.

During our time of grieving with the family, Sister Diane had this to say:

Times like these are a great mystery, and while we may never have an answer for the pain we feel, one thing never changes: God has eternal and perfect love for all people.

True comfort will never come in our circumstances, it can only come in understanding and living out the perfect love of God.  It doesn’t answer the question and it doesn’t end our heartache, but hopefully that perspective can help to shape our trajectory in life – even in the midst of pain.

Mabuza boys [Nakiwe, Sisandza,Tandziso and Felix Mabuza at the Feast of St. Philips] 

Feast of Mother Cabrini 052

Pain of War told with Sand

December 10th, 2009 No comments

[Video Link]

In the above video, Kseniya Simonova, a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine’s version of “America’s Got Talent” uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and “sand painting” skills to interpret Germany’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.

You would think that a medium such as sand would not lend itself to being graphic, but the pain of war is clearly conveyed through her finger strokes.

Take the time to watch the whole video.  At first you will be captivated by her skill, but very quickly you will drawn in by the story of the invasion and the subsequent pain and tragedy.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: , , , ,

Character Flaws

August 1st, 2009 3 comments

What would happen if we were honest about character flaws?

How would things look different if we were willing to admit our shortcomings and if we were able to have honest conversations with those we love about theirs.

I know I have my issues.  I can be arrogant and self-centered.  I am over critical of others ideas and too often insist things go my way.  I am better at coming up with ideas than I am with implementing them.  I can be too goals-oriented and overlook the people involved.  I don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt and am impatient.  I procrastinate and sometimes don’t follow through with the things I commit to…. (I really could go on much longer, but that is the point of this post).

Since Mikayla was born, I have been much more introspective about who I am versus who I want to be.  I am idealistic by nature and want things to be the best they can be (which probably is as much a contributing factor to many of my flaws as it is a solution).  The problem is I don’t always know when I am exibihiting these behaviors.  What is worse is I am sure there are others I have not listed that I don’t even know about.

I want to work on these issues, but I also know that owning up to them is painful.  Towards the end of my high school years, I began realizing areas where I had been a jerk (and by jerk, I don’t mean just saying something hurtful… I am talking about being a real asshole).  I tried to make apologies where possible, but I know I was never able to right the wrongs.  Even now, I will be telling a story a cringe when I think back to some of my choices, or how I treated people.  It is painful for me to realize these flaws, but it is worse to not acknowledge them.

I not only want to be willing and able to examine my own life, but I want to have the kind of friends who are comfortable telling me when I am being an ass, or when I have stepped over the line, or when I need to buck up and apologize, or admit I was wrong.  I want to be a better person even if that means having some painful conversations, or having my pride hurt.

On the other side, I wish I was better at being honest with those I care about about things I see in their lives that concern me.  I have always been a direct person and rarely shy away from conflict.  But, if I am honest, most times I am direct it is for my own selfish reasons.  I have been hurt, and I want them to know.  Well, I want to be direct because I love my friends and family and want them to be better people — whether or not it affects me directly.

I have never really been one to gossip and talk about others, but I do find myself judging others actions much more frequently than I would like.  I assume people’s motives when I really have no idea.  Often when I have had difficult conversations with friends about why they do things that they do, I have realized my perspective was wrong in the first place.

If I were most honest with those I care about things that concern me, I believe one of two things is most likely to happen.  Either I will gain a deeper respect for them by understanding their perspective, or, they will hopefully take to heart my concerns and in the end be better people.

All too often we are not cognizant of our flaws in the same way those around us are.  We may not even realize we are hurting people with our words or actions.  Equally, when we think we understand someone else and wish their behavior was different, the fact of the matter is we simply may not understand the larger picture.

Being open and honest is almost always awkward and it is often painful, but I feel it makes us better people and allows us to understand and care for those around us in a deeper way.  I have seen friendships fail because people were unwilling to be honest about concerns or hurts and assumed the worst.

So, what would happen if we were open about our character flaws and receptive to others criticism and honest with those we care about about our concerns?

I can’t answer that globally, but I can say that those are the types of relationships I want to have.  I want to acknowledge my flaws and be aware of when they are showing through.  I want to know when I cross the line and when I hurt people so I can be a better person and so I can try and make things right.  I don’t want to judge and be critical of others actions and motives if I am not willing to have a straight forward conversation with them.    I want to be a better  person…. and… I want the same for you.