Sunday, April 24, 2011

from far away

it's difficult to be distant from places of suffering, to know a close friend is grieving the death of a sister on the other side of an ocean, to know that in a world where i wasn't sick myself that i would have been there already.

i know how the funeral will go.  it will start at midnight.  it will be dark; the family's homestead has no electricity. the dim light from candles will shine through the windows. no streetlights will lead the way to the home.  the milky way will hang overhead but offer little light. everyone will gather in the main room; the casket will rest in the front. the voices of those grieving will escape through the door - singing songs of praise to god.  just before the sun rises, the singing will stop.  a pastor will speak a eulogy.  friends and family will read pieces of scripture.  precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his saints.  i am convinced that neither death nor life...can separate from god's love.  the singing will restart as the room empties, and will continue down the winding road to the malanda cemetery.  the pallbearers will dig a hole as the rest of those grieving collect rocks from the side of the mountain.  the sun climbs over the edge of the mountain.  the singing remains. there is no one like jesus. i walk, i search, i turn around, but there is no one like him.  the casket is lowered into the ground, and earth covers it.  the collected stones form a pile, marking the grave.  and then those grieving sing their way back to the house where they feast and celebrate the life of the lost. 

across the continent of africa, the sun rises over those grieving the lives hiv has taken.  funeral directing has become a lucrative business as the death rate soars.  and we wake up this morning to yardfuls of easter eggs.  i wonder what it means that jesus has risen.  i wonder what the good news is for the continent of africa.

i light candles and send my SOS's to the heavens, begging for hiv to please end soon. 


  1. thanks for sharing your heart. and as a note- for zandile's sister, HIV HAS ended. forever. no more suffering for her. may Zandile and all who suffer know the hope that is to come... praise God that she has found joy in the midst of all of this as she clings to that hope! (please know i do not say this to make light of the sick tragedy that is HIV/AIDS. i, too, deeply love a suffering woman on that contitent ravaged by AIDS and poverty and wish every day that i could make her life easier, that i could somehow take on me some of her pain. that she and others like her did not face heart-wrenching choices like giving up their only son for someone else to raise... yet i know there is more to this than i can see.)
    i love you and your beautiful heart and pray for you to know peace.

  2. oh, and i know i said this before, but you are a gifted writer :-) anne voskamp's writing reminded me of you and how i love to hear the way you express yourself. sorry this is so long but i want to talk to you but am too out of it w/ this headache!! soon... you're on my heart!