Justin in Goma
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” (Henri Nouwen)You may mock the man, berate the Church he leads or deride the Worldwide Communion he seeks to guide. But you cannot enter his mind, sense his heart or judge his motives.
To whom does this destitute little girl belong? She and her baby brothers are beggared in the Congo, with nothing but a filthy rug to call home. To whom does she belong? What is there but squalor, dirt and excrement? What hope is there surrounded by malaria and dysentery? Where is love in all the loneliness? Where is God?
Criticism can provoke you to anger, resentment and bitterness, or you can move on and devote your time and energy to doing that which is lasting and important. Life is often a struggle, and for many of the world's poorest it is a daily battle for survival, for food, for clean water, for warmth and shelter. The lost children don't have time to ask "Do you love me?" because they are bound by the mundane quest for daily bread. The hurts they conceal in their little hearts are unfathomable; the tears they cry all night seem unending.
Justin huddles down and tenderly takes her hand. She stoops slightly, and meets his eyes. He listens. She doesn't know her true self in this world, and wants to explain the lostness she feels. He tells her about the Father's home, where there is no night and no pain. It seems a distant place. He reassures her that she is a child of God, and very much loved. It feels to her like a mystery. He smiles tenderly, and says nothing more. But in that outstretched hand is a glimmer of life restored; a taste of eternal love.
The Father's hands are always stretched out: Justin is the merely the human vessel of blessing.