I will have to write this blog entry in 2 parts maybe 3, solely dependent on how much I have to write. This has been such an amazing year of perseverance, heartache and self evaluation… I would never trade for anything. So before I get carried away allow me the space to just write.
Let me start at the very beginning (as I type I am tempted to sing do a deer, a female deer)…alas here goes. So my journey to selflessness begins mid April 2011 as I walk to work and notice a frail old lady sitting on the side walk. What grabbed my attention more than anything was not her state of poverty, but rather that smile that lights up any day. What started as a mere ‘Goeie more’ has evolved into a relationship I have come to cherish. That woman I know today as my ‘auntie Maria’. Looking into her eyes, I could see that life has worn her down; that behind that friendly face lied great disappointment and rejection beyond anything I could fathom.
As I befriended autie Maria, I have come to befriend her ‘family’, which I will tell you more about later. The thing that amazed me most about her, was the fact that she would never complain…not one day in this year of getting to know her…has she complained. There were mornings where I would find her seated in what looked like a fetal position, trying to stay warm…yet when she saw me, she would rather ask me how I was doing. Those mornings broke my heart to such an extent that I would walk to work crying my eyes out. How could someone, so rejected by society still have a regard for others? She has taught me such a valuable lesson about acceptance of our life and what we have…being ‘happy and content’ with what we do not have. She has come to accept her life and she lives it regardless of what she might not have. On the other side she has showed me that I have SO MUCH and so much to live for. Auntie Maria has opened my heart to my own selfish desires and aspirations while there are people who have no hope…none at all. She has shown me a world where people live from one day to the next, not knowing if they will have something to eat. Solely dependent on external factors. Being so helpless that your hands feel like they are literally tied. I have walked through days of frustration, not knowing how and where to from here… literally crying because I could not help the situation.
More than anything I have learned that every face has a story and that every story is important. I have come to see that God is gracious and his grace can be extended through my hands. I remember walking passed her one morning at about 7am and she was so drunk, to the point that she could not even sit up straight. In that moment my heart was so judgmental, I felt a sense of anger at my time being wasted….had she no concern for the fact that I feed her everyday? Would I ever make her see God? She then stops me, looks me in the eyes and says ‘daar is iets omtrent jou gesig…dis soos ‘n engel sin. Ek kan wies wat ek is, maar ek weet jy het my waarlik lief ‘ I could barely wait for her to finish her sentence to walk away and bawl my eyes out. She was seeing God’s love through me, and I was making a difference even though I could not see it physically. Even though I was not ‘preaching’ to her…she was seeing God’s love through my actions. More than anything she has taught me grace in my own walk with God, grace towards myself and the mercy God has towards me. So she drinks and is a bit wayward as we would know it…yet she is my ‘auntie’ and I love her just as she is. I see her rather for her heart and her hurt, than her actions.
Here is a woman who has been on the street since the age of eleven… give or take she could be my dads age (about sixty four years old)… that means she has been a vagrant for close to fifty years. Imagine the hopelessness your mind has sold you into, that you are not worthy of anything more than the street. Your body aches everyday of your life because you sleep on tattered cardboard, yet your mind and heart tells you…this is the best life has to offer. Here I worry about living in Belhar…I have a home, a bed, food and family I know. Imagine not seeing your family for close to fifty years…imagine not knowing your age, your birthday…because life has erased all those things from your mind…all of it …gone. You live with family you have created because you still long for that sense of belonging, acceptance.
If anything, I have come to see and notice that dirty face I pass by daily… and have realized that that face has a story just like me.
I will stop here for today, there is so much to tell about the other faces and the lessons learnt from them. we are all a part of an inner net that is interwoven by love.