Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Face of Christ
My thoughts and prayers today at with Patricia. Patricia is a patient in the health clinic for chronically ill and rehabilitated persons. She has been there my entire stay in South Africa, and in our first meeting she asked if I would pray for her. Since, we have shared conversations and smiles as she has continued to fight various illnesses. When I went for a visit on Friday, I immediately noticed a dramatic change in Patricia’s condition, and asked Jess, the social worker about it. Jess told me that Patricia was ‘not doing well at all’ and that she had called her family to come and visit. It was clear she was in the last stages on life and it was time to say goodbyes. I went to Patricia, and she recognized me and held out her hand to me. I sat with her as she coughed and grimaced in pain. I believe it was the worst condition I had ever seen a human being in, and up to that time the thought of this moment in my mind was one I had churned over endlessly in fear. I was terrified that in those delicate moments with a terminally ill person, I would be completely overwhelmed and disgusted. However, when faced with this call, to be present with people in times of horrendous suffering, I found myself completely calm and at peace. I prayed peace and God’s presence over Patricia and she agreed with these spiritual truths. I stroked her head and hair and looked deeply into her face and eyes. The words of Matthew 25 flashed in my spirit, and I knew that I was caring for Christ in those precious moments. It was a privilege. Our time came to an end, and I promised Patricia I would return, knowing that there was no guarantee to the hours or days left in her life. But Christ and His loving embrace were powerfully near, and I knew that He would carry her through her anguish. It is moments like these that can never be captured in words, but must only be experienced. They are not reserved for the ‘super-spiritual’ but for each of us, as we are all invited to find Christ in the last and the least of our world. I continue to invite you to come close, to the suffering in our world, and the image of God in each of us. Please pray for Patricia, that her suffering would be minimal and that she would know the powerful presence of God.