To a social worker the Master said, “I fear you are doing more harm than good.”
“Because you stress only one of the two imperatives of justice.”
“The poor have a right to bread.”
“What’s the other one?”
“The poor have a right to beauty.”
I started writing this blog 3 months ago and got stuck. I couldn’t think straight or get the words out right. So I laid it aside until now.
I can’t stop thinking about love.
I can’t stop thinking about (who we have tenderly named) The Little People of Ambato.
And I can’t stop thinking about how sometimes Jesus flips the Kingdom and everything I’ve known upside down.
We live in a world where we strive for and think about success, about what we do, about basic needs (home, food, friends, work). We’re always onto the next thing. Always wanting more and wanting to make sure we have it all together. We get to a point where we don’t even think about our basic needs, once we’re in a stable lifestyle and routine. We don’t necessarily think about our health, our next meal, or the heat (of the day? in our homes?). Its just part of life. We also don’t think that hard about love.
Yes, we think about romantic love. Duh. I do. Let’s be honest.
But we don’t really, as a culture, have the concern of, “Will someone hold my hand today? Will I be smiled at? Will someone hug me? Will someone love me as I die? Will I be missed? Will someone cry? Will my life matter at all?”
Of course that isn’t a problem for the vast majority of us in America! We have families, and friends, and churches. Those questions are very rare in our culture. We look at the lack of love (normally romantic, or wanting more friends), but it isn’t something that we are:
Crying out for.
It isn’t something we are 100% deprived of.
Then there are the Little People of Ambato.
I have never been faced, in the flesh, with 5 people who literally do not know love. The utter deprivation, the utter absence of touch, of physical affection, of tenderness is something I honestly, to my core, do not know how to process or understand.
To a live a life without love.
To not have anyone at your funeral.
For no one to really care that you died.
To not have tenderness, and touch, and compassion.
For no one to sing to you.
To not have someone who lights up when they see you.
To not fall asleep knowing to your core that you are loved.
I cannot fathom this world. I cannot. And I don’t think most in the west can at all. To break it all away, and think, “What if no one even realized it if I died? What if no one ever kissed my cheek tenderly?”
I write about this, but honestly I don’t know how to process it down to my bones. It’s far too vulnerable, far too unjust, far too wrong in every sense. A world without love?
No. No no no. You cannot survive in that world.
When you look at their situation, it’s…. unspeakable; lice everywhere, feces everywhere. They go to the bathroom in the clothes they wear constantly. Never bathing. The worst possible living conditions you can imagine. Ever. And their physical health is very bad. I know they don’t have much time left on this earth.
So of course you want to DO something. Let’s get them some medicine! (They won’t take it). Let’s hire a nurse! (They scream and cry when the nurse comes and refuse her help, making her tie them down to the bed by all fours, creating even more trauma). Let’s bring them food! (Yes, they need that but they also know how to live off the land.) Let’s get them out of the situation altogether! (Honestly, it would kill them. This is the only life they have ever known, for their entire existence. They are accustomed to it. It’s what they know.)
So where the heck does that leave us?
That leaves us at a completely up-side-down, unfathomable kingdom of God.
It’s easy to preach it, easy to put it in our words and stories and blog posts. But to actually look at this situation and feel like your hands are tied and see the massive injustice and suffering and say… the only thing left, the thing I know they need the most, is love. So we have to JUST love. That’s it.
It seems easy. But its not. It’s vulnerable. It feels like a cheap way out.
No one singing to you.
No one brushing their hand against your cheek.
No one holding you against their chest.
No one kissing your face.
No touches that don’t hurt or abuse you.
No one who just smiles at you.
You wake up.
And a group walks into your home and does all those things.
I watch them come back to life.
Time after time after time after time.
They don’t want the medicine, or doctors, or food.
They want tenderness, and kindness, and gentleness.
They want joy and excitement and laughter.
It’s so vulnerable.
To lay it all down and say… the only thing left is love, and it is the most important thing of all.
The greatest poverty of all is the absence of love. – Osho