It’s been two months since I returned from India and its people. Already, my built-in “forgetter” is performing its handiwork.
The month-long journey chafed my spirit and kneaded the tendons of my soul, but life is back to normal and the daily stresses of the “good life” have returned. The scrapes with adversity, drudgery, and misfortune that our brothers and sisters endure daily (half a world away) are already submitting themselves to the customary sorting and stacking, like my winter clothes on the first day of spring. Memories, images and brushes with those living on the brink of calamity are piled high on the dusty narrow stairs to my mind’s attic.
A flickering light casts a shadow over piles of packed away promises I’ve made to myself. Staring into the eaves of past disappointments and painful truths, it is only by the will of Almighty God that I have been gifted a life of ease with all its comforts. By a swipe of His hand, I was born in America, a nation of freedom and opportunity unlike anywhere else on earth. For some reason, I was not born an untouchable living on the edge of hell in an Indian slum.
I had lots of time to spend with a group of women who’ve lived burdensome lives. We cooked together, talked, and prayed. While nestled at their feet in prayer, God’s spirit lifted the dust that had laid heavy upon my heart of compassion. In an instant, the cloud of Christian complacency lifted from my soul. The bats that were nestled on my stockpile of humanitarianism have been scattered exposing an acute awareness of the ease in which I live and the arrogant excessiveness of it all.
I am blessed. Yes, life brings struggles and challenges. But, the toiling grind essential for every single task of Indian life is something that is unimaginable for me as an American. Most of these families live in one or two room dwellings with corrugated steel roofs. Some have concrete walls, some do not. Some have a water source and a latrine outside their home close to their door; some not. Water, the most essential component of daily living is drawn from a deep well and brought to a rudimentary kitchen area and stored in a drum. If you have drawn the long straw, and live in your own dwelling, chances are there is water not far from your front door. Hot water on tap is an absolute luxury and not affordable. In rural villages, most women and children walk to a common well or pump.
Propane stoves are common in those who have escaped the jaws of bitter poverty, but 70% of women living in rural villages still use wood and cow dung for cooking, and water must be boiled before drinking.
I realize there needs to be a balance between justice for those who are still suffering beyond our horizon and those of my neighbors who are in distress. Most of us will experience squalls of affliction and adversity in our lives, but we have resources to assist us when our tops are spinning.
God calls us who are “given much” to go to the ends of the Earth to calm the winds of turmoil in the souls of those who still wake up every day in a storm of despair. It is only by the presence of the Almighty that the gales of misfortune may ebb from our lives. We are urged to carry the hope of Jesus to those still in the storm.
Julie – March 2019