Let the River Flow
Their skin is soft and wrinkled. Their trembling hands reach out for a touch. Their smiles soften my heart and make me kneel down in humility. They are my teachers.
I wash them softly and gently…the warm water drips down from their old shapeless bodies and I think of rivers, beautiful and fast rivers with splashing waters.
“Let the river flow” says the song.
Their bones protruding thorough their skin feel soft and I’m afraid to touch them. I go around the bumps gently. It must be hurting them. They’re happy after the bath and they smile…it softens my heart. Their hands grab mine in a tensed and strong hold as they try to get up on their thin, so very thin legs.
We walk together…I help them walk.
We walk together…they help me walk.
They are my teachers. Yet they don’t sit behind desks, they don’t grade papers, they don’t wear glasses…they sit in wheel chairs or lie in beds in the house of Missionaries of Charity, in El Alto, Bolivia. They’re not well dressed, sometimes their shoes don’t even match and their shirts don’t have enough buttons. They don’t smell nice and some of them slobber. They don’t use big words, many of them can’t talk. They don’t have great theological ideas…many of them talk and laugh at themselves, forgetting their names and age because they don’t need such things in their happy world.
I have to get up early to go to their house. A small crowded minibus takes me there on a bumpy and dusty road. I get off the car and walk for ten minutes. On my way I see dirty shelters, street dogs, piles of garbage and sometimes kids playing.
Sometimes it’s cold and I have to walk fast, and other times it’s hot and I walk slowly. My body would take me to some other place…I sometimes don’t want to go. I hear the sound of my steps on the dusty road. I hear the sound of the nails hammered into the cross.
I think of obedience and of what it means to me now that I’m here to serve God. The words that I once used have to turn into practice. I have to walk in His light, I have to be His hands, feet and body.
I think of them and…we walk together…they help me walk
Teach me how to walk in your will!
You died for me, I’ll live for you.
The compound is pretty big and nice. The roof is green. Green. We don’t have too much vegetation here in our desert-like town. Missionaries of Charity is like a oasis in the midst of poverty here.
I walk in and I see hands reaching out to me. They smile from their wheel chairs…it softens my heart.
There’s always a lot of work in the showers and I go straight there. My body would take me some place else. The bathroom smells. I take a deep breathe and walk in. The smell is strong but they smile…and it softens my heart.
Their skin is soft and wrinkled. I wash then softly and gently. The water drips down from their old shapeless bodies and I think of beautiful and fast rivers. “Let the river flow”
They don’t talk so we communicate through touch. I touch them, I let Jesus touch them through me.
They can’t talk—I’m His hands.
They can’t walk—I’m His feet.
They’re alone—I’m His body.
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me” (Mt 25:36)
Sometimes I sit in the sun. I look at my hands. My hands are healthy and they can do many things. Also, my hands can hit.
I look at my feet. My feet are healthy and they can help those who can’t walk. Also, my feet can step on other people.
I look inside at my heart. My heart is healthy and it knows love. Also, my heart knows hatred.
I think of my mind. My mind is healthy and it can build beautiful dreams…and right now, my mind is telling me that I could be some place else.
Break me, Lord! Break this heart! Take me down there where hands can’t move, where feet can’t walk, where hearts are lonely, where minds can’t build dreams. Jesus, take me where you go to cry with them. Teach me how to touch them so I can touch you.
Take me down first so I can fly
I finish my work today and I walk out. The sun is bathing my face in beautiful beams. The desert-like town looks different through the watery curtain that covers my eyes.
I don’t feel the ground beneath my feet. It feels like fast waters of a beautiful river are taking me to places I’ve never been to, it feels like my unspoken words are telling the world their stories, my trembling hands and their hands are going together in a gentle touch, my stumbling feet are walking towards strong feet asking them to join me.
The river is flowing. It’s carrying their strory to you.
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people” (Ps113:7,8)
Their reach out for help…my hands reach out…will you join me in this embrace?