“For YOU created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise YOU because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from YOU when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are YOUR thoughts to me, O God!” Psalm 139: 13 – 17a.
“The interpretation that suffering in itself brings men nearer to God is far more Greek and Neoplatonic than Christian”. (Scheler in his essay “Meaning of Suffering”) Also, dualism divides the world into the good people and the evil people, with suffering as the badge of virtue and the mark of moral superiority that warrants the demonization of groups that have mistreated you. In stark contrast, Christians believe, as Aleksandr Solzhenistyn wrote famously, “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” (The Gulag Archipelago, Harper, 1974.) – Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, p. 29. Tim Keller, Penguin Books, 2013.
Good morning, dear world! I saw a post recently about how it’s probably healthier for kids to get a bath only one or two times a week, because their immune systems are still developing and, a certain amount of mostly benign flora and fauna in and on them helps their natural resistance to be strong. I think it has to do with, also, allowing their natural skin oils to accumulate a bit, which provides yet another healthy barrier against infection.
T’was comforting. It made me feel like a better mom, to realize that CERTAINLY I had followed this path with my beloved little ones, as a young mom, sometimes almost by DEFAULT, to be honest. The water and electricity cuts where we lived were so frequent and sometimes so long, that bathing my babies was impossible for days at a time. Except for sponge baths, of course, which are supposed to be super healthy for people anyways.
Reading that post brought back memories of how I would, sometimes, WORRY about the intensity and scope of the thick, light brown dust coverage on their little skins, not to mention deeply rubbed in grime and stains in blue jean knees and shirt elbows, that my happy, healthy little ones popped home with every day from hours playing outdoors with their young Quechua friends.
I remember Paul and me (the parents) actually dusting their clothing off with our hands, while it was still on them, as a matter of course. Visible clouds of fine dirt billowed out, before we lifted our youngsters across the threshold of our small apartment, to go inside with them. I remember slipping their little shoes off their feet and dumping out CUPFULS of dust and sand! I remember, every once in awhile, a little face being so mud-covered that only the bright, big blue eyes twinkled out at me through the brown grime, under the towhead thatch of fine thick hair!
Digressing a little, but not much, I’m remembering how, one time Paul was away on a ministry trip to a rural area in the highlands. The huge, vibrant and growing loose consortium of all Quechua churches – the one with which we mostly worked, the U.C.E., was hosting a big yearly conference right on the same U.C.E.- owned property where we lived and where there was a Quechua Bible School. Thousands of Quechua people, from all over Bolivia, had arrived at the Bible School and were staying in student rooms, vehicles, and camping. Saturday morning had arrived and I slipped out of the Bible Institute property for a half an hour, striped nylon Bolivia shopping bags over my arms, to buy produce for my family in the Quechua farmer’s market just outside the Bible School gates, right there. I left my baby and my tiny boys playing happily in the stone-flagged entryway to our apartment, door into our place cracked open, with my Quechua part-time housekeeper, Donya Marcelina, working in our little kitchen and keeping a gimlet eye on our kids, five yards away.
Twenty-five minutes later, walking back in, lugging bagfuls of fresh potatoes, lettuce, papaya, broccoli and Granny Smith apples, I smiled at my three offspring, still in our foreyard playing Legos with the kids of Benedicto and Braulia, and slipped in through our front door. Our place was tiny; distances are small. I turned toward the kitchen, still lugging produce, and called a greeting to Donya Marcelina. At that moment our bathroom door opened and a Quechua stranger, a man, came out, with a towel over his arm.
“Good morning, Senora!”. Huge grin.
I mumbled “Good morning”. I was in shock. I was not grinning.
He smiled ingratiatingly, and slipped past me, made a bee-line for the front door, and disappeared. His hair and skin were all wet.
“Donya Marcelina???” I sputtered.
She looked at me with concern in her warm, deep eyes.
“I know, Donya NinadesusOjos. But, he just walked in here, and started taking a shower, in the bathroom. I assumed you had given him permission, before you left! I am so sorry!”
I had the deepest, most intuitive liking, respect and trust for this lady, older than I, in whom I had implicit faith and from whom I had learned dozens of positive, amazing life hacks. I thanked my God for her every single day. I loved her, and her warm, open, authentic smile.
“It’s okay, Donya Marcelina! I’m not blaming you! It’s not your fault!”
And it wasn’t. It was just another example of …. life! I think God was trying to teach me, not only to trust Him more, but to laugh more, along the route.